Andrea Sutcliffe, chief executive and registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, has demanded more protection for nurses “during the greatest challenge of their lives”.
The head of the nursing and midwifery regulator has added her voice to call for more personal protective equipment (PPE), after the Royal College of Nursing penned a letter to the prime minister over the same issue.
“Health and social care staff need all of our respect and support at this incredibly difficult time”
Ms Sutcliffe said: “Covid-19 means our nursing and midwifery professionals are facing the greatest challenge of their lives in providing critical care and support for those in need, right across the UK in health and social care.
“It’s vital that frontline staff in health and social care are supported with testing and the provision of the right personal protective equipment for everyone in high risk areas,” she said in a statement.
“I know staff are worried and I also know and welcome how hard everyone at the most senior levels in health and social care in all four countries is working to make this a reality.”
The RCN had asked Boris Johnson for a greater availability of PPE after their members reported a lack of equipment.
In particular, FFP-3 masks – which offer a higher level of respiratory protection – were difficult to obtain.
The RCN added that protective equipment must be supplied to nurses in the community, general practices and care homes as well as those in hospital settings.
The RCN’s chief executive and general secretary, Dame Donna Kinnair, also expressed that members had “serious concerns” over a lack of testing for staff.
She said that “priority Covid-19 testing for health and social care workers is an absolute must”. “Our members need this in order to do their job while keeping themselves, and their patients, safe.”
Last week, the government said that work was underway to expand testing, and that health and social care staff would be prioritised.
Ms Sutcliffe added: “The public can do their bit too. I’ve been outraged by reports in the media that clinical staff have been abused, protected shopping time in supermarkets disregarded and staff mugged for their ID badges.
“Health and social care staff need all of our respect and support at this incredibly difficult time,” she said.
Last week, Nursing Times reported incidences of verbal and physical abuse against frontline and community nurses.
While reports of NHS staff in London having their ID stolen have circulated on social media and some news outlets, the Metropolitan Police Service said no reports had been made but urged people with information to come forward.
Meanwhile, Ms Sutcliffe welcomed the initial response to its creation of an emergency register for former nurses who have left the profession within the last three year.
She it was “amazing” to see so many former nurses and midwives had applied to join the temporary register, as part of efforts to expand the workforce to cope with Covid-19.
So far, 5,633 nurses have joined the temporary register after the council collaborated with the Department of Health and Social Care to create emergency legislation.
Those who are recently retired but are “fit, proper and suitably experienced persons” are now able to become registered temporarily to support the NHS.