Nursing staff in the UK still under pressure to work without PPE and lack promised gowns

Press Release 16/05/2020

Nursing staff in the UK still under pressure to work without PPE and lack promised gowns

Over a third of nursing staff (34%) in the UK say they are still under pressure to care for patients with possible or confirmed covid-19 without adequate protective equipment.

The findings are revealed in the latest UK-wide member survey on PPE by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

Despite promises of delivery of gowns, nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents who require them, said there were not enough gowns for them to use, with a further 34% concerned about the supply for their next shift.

Nursing staff are still raising concerns about PPE with over half of respondents (58%) saying they had raised concerns about PPE and more than a quarter (27%) reporting those concerns had not been addressed.

When asked why they may not have raised concerns more than two-thirds (68%) in this group said they did not believe any action would be taken with and nearly a quarter (24%) saying they were worried it would negatively impact on their career or training progression.

The findings are from a survey conducted by the Royal College of Nursing to provide a snapshot of PPE shortages. The survey also found of those working in the highest risk environments:

  • Almost one in five respondents (19%) said there were not enough respirator masks for them to use, with a further 35% concerned about the supply for their next shift.
  • 44% of respondents are still being asked to reuse single use equipment
  • 32% had not been adequately fit tested for respirator masks with the most common reasons being there due to there being too many different brands/types of mask to be able to fit test them all, or that their employer had not scheduled fit testing

Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said:

“We continue to hear that our members are still not adequately protected. This is particularly concerning especially if the country faces the threat of a second wave. 

“We have repeatedly raised the issue with UK governments and have heard assurances that PPE is being delivered. But this survey – and the direct contact I have with members – shows that is not the experience on the ground in hospitals as well as in care homes.”

Ends

Notes to editors

Survey methodology

The RCN developed and distributed an online survey to all RCN members exploring respondent’s experiences of Personal and Protective Equipment (PPE) across all settings in health and social care. The majority of questions were closed quantitative.

The link to this online survey was emailed to all RCN members and publicised through our social media platforms. The survey was open from Thursday, 7 May through Monday, 11 May 2020.  There was a total of 5,023 full responses.

We are planning to repeat this survey on a regular basis to assess how PPE and infection control are changing over time during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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