Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/customer/www/nclexion.com/public_html/wp-content/themes/jnews/class/ContentTag.php on line 47
Nurse leaders, academics and other healthcare groups have written to the prime minister calling on him to act on “inadequate” protection against Covid-19.
“We believe that given the rapid emergence and evolution of new variants of concern, a change in approach must be implemented at speed”
Letter to PM
Boris Johnson must help prevent further loss of life by acting on evidence on the need for better ventilation and “higher grade” personal protective equipment (PPE), an influential coalition of health organisations said in its letter.
In particular, they flag concerns of the risk from airborne transmission of coronavirus and the threat posed by the emerging new variants of the virus.
The coalition includes the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives, the Queen’s Nursing Institute UK Critical Care Nursing Alliance and the British Association of Critical Care Nurses among others.
The warning comes almost 12 months since the pandemic reached the UK, the early months of which were characterised by serious shortages of PPE for nursing staff in NHS and care settings.
Their letter highlights that health and care workers are at three to four times greater risk of developing and dying from Covid-19 virus than the public, and deliver care at “huge personal risk”.
Across the UK, at least 930 health and care workers to date have lost their lives and many more are suffering from long-term adverse effects of Covid-19, it states.
The signatories of the letter argue that a “change in approach must be implemented at speed” to protect staff and patients.
They warned that current policies over-emphasise the importance of fomite, droplet and direct spread at the expense of “mission-critical” measures to reduce airborne transmission in high-risk health and care settings, which they said remained “inadequate”.
The signatories are calling for the prime minister to act on five areas in particular.
First, to ensure that all health and care providers assess and improve the quality of ventilation in all settings to reduce the risks of airborne spread.
Second, to amend the UK infection prevention and control guidance to “reflect” an increase in the level of respiratory protection as a precautionary principle for all health and care workers providing care to people with known or suspected Covid-19, or a as result of local risk assessment.
Third, to update all guidance to reflect the evidence on airborne transmission, ensuring representation from a “truly multidisciplinary range of experts”.
Fourth, to collect and publish “consistent” data on healthcare workers who have contracted Covid-19 from likely occupational exposure, in order to identify health and care settings where staff are most affected and target responses to address this.
Lastly, they ask the government to publish, in accessible form, the scientific evidence on airborne transmission in health and care settings and to support research to fill any knowledge gaps.
The letter states: “Measures to reduce airborne spread in high-risk health and care settings, which are mission-critical to the pandemic response, have thus far been inadequate.
“Current policies continue to emphasise the importance of fomite, droplet and direct spread but do not properly address airborne transmission,” they said.
“We believe that given the rapid emergence and evolution of new variants of concern, a change in approach must be implemented at speed to protect patients and staff consistently across the UK.”
The signatories added that it was a UK-wide issue and that co-ordinated, national action “could make a decisive difference”.
“We, therefore, look to the UK government, and you as prime minister, to take the lead to address the inconsistencies and gaps in guidance and in the protection of patients and health and care workers,” they said.