RCN position on personal protective equipment (PPE) for COVID-19

We acknowledge today’s UK-wide publication of guidance for personal protective equipment (PPE) for all health and care staff fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a Royal College and professional trade union representing the largest directly affected workforce, with over 450,000 members, we are pleased to have had the chance to advise the government about the issues affecting our members in the development of this guidance.

We were able to ensure extension of the original guidance to cover health care workers in community, mental health and social care settings.

As such, we are satisfied with the government guidance being issued today and we will be monitoring the situation with regards to the evidence of its efficacy and use. The success of this guidance will be judged by its implementation and communication to those who need it most.

On behalf of our members, we have voiced our disappointment over the length of time it has taken to develop this guidance and include nursing as an equal stakeholder alongside medical professional organisations. Employers must adhere to this guidance in order to regain the confidence of the nursing workforce.

We know that in the face of this crisis, our members want to deliver the best and safest care they can.

All nursing staff are ready to fight this pandemic as our community continues to work tirelessly to provide safe and effective care for patients.

The government must protect the health and social care workforce, and in doing so, help protect patients too.<.p>

We will keep raising and recording the response to this issue across health and care services until it is resolved.


To our members concerned about lack of adequate PPE, we advise them to:

  • Familiarise themselves with their employers’ risk assessment for COVID-19 duties
  • Ensure there is a risk assessment put in place that says PPE is required and that this is accessible
  • submit a near miss form any time they are not provided with adequate PPE
  • contact the relevant Nursing Director, COO or Managing Director if they feel unsafe.

As always, members can contact the RCN if they have any concerns about their workplace. There is further guidance on our COVID-19 FAQs page.