930 health and care workers are killed on the Covid frontline: Shocking death toll sparks ‘urgent’ call from more than 20 organisations for Boris Johnson to provide better PPE to combat airborne particles
- Royal College of Nursing and British Medical Association are among 20 names
- They say Covid is an airborne problem and PPE should reflect that danger
- Professor Dame Donna Kinnair is calling for Boris Johnson to step in to help
A team of over 20 health and science groups say health and care workers tackling the coronavirus are not being given good enough PPE as it emerged 930 of them have been killed on the pandemic front line.
The coalition has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson himself in an usual move, cutting out the Department of Health to go straight to the top.
They say new research suggests Covid-19 is an airborne pathogen, meaning it can float around us and is not just spread by droplets.
Signatories on the letter include the Royal College of Nursing, British Medical Association, Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the Royal College of Midwives.
Professor Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said this morning: ‘We are very concerned because the UK infection and control guidance it doesn’t accurately depict the airborne risk when sharing health and care setting.
Professor Dame Donna Kinnair said groups were very concerned about the PPE guidance
Medics at the Royal Surrey County Hospital, Guildford, wearing all of the correct PPE
‘We believe there has been a lack of emphasis of this. The current masks that healthcare workers are wearing in areas outside of intensive care units do not adequately protect them from inhaling these airborne particles.
‘We are working with patients outside of intensive care units, we’re working in their own homes, we’re working in open wards, we’ve been putting patients on C-PAC, a form of ventilation and ll this means actually while we’ve taken care of one area people are unnecessarily exposed, we believe.
‘They haven’t adequately depicted the risk posed by these airborne droplets.’
Only basic masks are currently being worn by doctors and nurses outside of intensive care.
This week data from the British Medical Association showed one in five female staff were worried about catching coronavirus due to ill-fitting protective equipment. Some staff have also complained they have not been properly fitted for masks, the Independent reported.
Boris Johnson greets nurse Michelle Bradford at a coronavirus vaccination hub in PPE
The Prime Minister wore gloves and a facemask for a visit to a jab centre in south Wales
The letter to the PM said: ‘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.
‘There is now no scientific doubt that Covid-19 spreads via the airborne route.’
‘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.’
‘We have addressed this letter to you because your agencies and departments have not yet sufficiently responded to our concerns. While we are aware that a review of the guidance has been carried out, we cannot agree with its apparent conclusions that the guidance should remain the same,’ the letter concluded.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care: ‘At every stage of the pandemic, the safety of our NHS and social care staff has been our priority – and we continue to work tirelessly to deliver PPE to protect those on the frontline.
‘We also know good ventilation can greatly reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19, which is why it is listed in guidance to help businesses and health and care settings stay Covid-secure.
‘The government will continue to closely monitor new and emerging evidence on airborne transmission, and update our advice where necessary.’