Leaders from a range of medical and nursing professional groups have published guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE) for health and social care staff who are likely to come into contact with patients with COVID-19.
The guidance has been agreed by the four UK Chief Medical Officers, Chief Nursing Officers and Chief Dental Officers in the UK and endorsed by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and is applicable in all parts of the UK.
The updated guidance reflects the fact that COVID-19 is now widespread in the community, meaning clinicians are more likely to see patients with the virus. The guidance is based on the best scientific evidence and is consistent with what WHO recommends in circumstances and settings with the highest risk of transmission.
Any clinician working in a hospital, primary care or community care setting within two metres of a suspected or confirmed coronavirus COVID-19 patient should wear an apron, gloves, surgical mask and eye protection, based on the risk.
Recognises that clinicians may wish to wear an apron, gloves, surgical mask and eye protection when assessing patients in any setting, where the risk of COVID- 19 is unknown.
In some circumstances PPE, particularly masks and eye protection which is there to protect the health and care worker can be worn for an entire session and doesn’t need to be changed between patients, as long as it is safe to do so.
More detail on what PPE to use in different clinical scenarios as well as community settings, such as care homes and caring for individuals in their own homes.
When carrying out aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) clinicians should wear a higher level of protective equipment, these are listed out in the guidance.
Use of aprons rather than gowns for non-aerosol generating procedures, including advice on thoroughly washing forearms if there is a risk of exposure to droplets, consistent with the UK policy of bare below the elbows and evidence reviews on the risks of healthcare acquired infections.
WHO recommends the use of FFP2 masks but the UK has gone further and recommends the use of FFP3 masks. However, we are clear that FFP2 have been approved by the WHO and can be used safely if needed. There is good stock of FFP3 masks in the UK.
The guidance is under constant review, and practice, policies and provisions will be amended accordingly. The HSCB is working closely with the Department of Health and colleagues to ensure PPE is supplied in good time with adequate stock.