The letter follows reports of a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) available to frontline staff, not just in hospitals, but in GP surgeries, care homes and in the community where nurses are visiting people in their homes.
The letter also calls on the prime minister to increase the number of tests for the virus for nursing staff so that those with possible symptoms of COVID-19 know whether they are infected or not.
In the letter, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary Dame Donna Kinnair tells the prime minister: “Our members have been unstinting in their dedication and professionalism to protecting the health and wellbeing of the UK – they must be supported by the government and health sector in return.
“Our members are coming out of retirement, students are interrupting their studies, and nursing staff are deploying from non-clinical settings, all to support the frontline in the battle against COVID-19.
“We ask you to personally intervene and act to ensure enough supply of PPE and testing for COVID-19 is available for all nursing staff and our colleagues across the health and care system.”
We’re also asking for the government to provide clarity on what PPE nursing staff should use and in what circumstances, specifically in respect of eye protection and gowns. It comes as RCN members have been reporting confusion due to discrepancies between the UK and World Health Organization infection prevention guidance.