The survey, conducted over the Easter weekend, shows that over half of nursing staff in Wales have felt pressured during the COVID-19 pandemic to care for a patient without adequate protection as outlined in the current PPE guidance.
Of those treating possible or confirmed COVID-19 patients in these high-risk areas, around half (49%) reported that they are being asked to re-use items of PPE that are marked single use by manufacturers. High-risk environments include areas where patients with or suspected of having COVID-19 were being treated on ventilators.
Helen Whyley, Director RCN Wales, said: “The results are clear. Nursing staff in all healthcare settings across Wales are dealing with horrifying shortages of equipment.
Nurses and health care support workers in care homes, the community and in hospitals are working long hours, under great stress and are risking their own health to protect others. The lack of PPE is creating a burden of immense distress and heightened anxiety for our nursing staff members and the patients they care for.
The lack of PPE in healthcare settings is also, undoubtedly, having an impact on the spread and transmission of COVID-19. The Welsh Government needs not only to distribute PPE to health boards but to audit how this equipment is being distributed to the frontlines.
Our nursing staff are stepping up to the challenge and simply must be given protection in order to do their jobs safely and with confidence during this pandemic.”
Findings also revealed that in Wales:
• Over a third (41%) of nursing staff treating high risk patients report being concerned about the supply of face and eye protection for their next shift and nearly half (46%) report being concerned about the supply of filtering face piece respirator masks for their next shift
• Around half (49%) of nursing staff treating COVID-19 patients not on ventilators said they had not received training on what standard PPE to wear and when they should wear it
• Over half (59%) of all nursing staff report not having access to facilities for changing clothes when they wear a uniform and around two thirds (67%) do not have access to washing facilities
• During this pandemic, 74% of nursing staff raised concerns they have had about PPE and only 18% felt their concerns had been fully addressed
The survey, which was completed by close to 14,000 members across the UK, including nearly 900 in Wales, will be run again to collect further data on PPE issues and overtime across the UK.