Nursing staff dealing with horrifying shortages of equipment says Royal College

Nursing staff in Wales are "dealing with horrifying shortages of equipment," according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

Around 900 staff responded to a survey by the RCN, which reports: "in Wales, over half (54%) of respondents have felt pressured during this COVID-19 pandemic to care for a patient without adequate protection as outlined in the current PPE guidance.

"Of those treating possible or confirmed COVID-19 patients in these high-risk areas, around half (49%) reported that they are being asked to re-use items of PPE that are marked single use by manufacturers."

There has been concern for weeks that frontline healthcare workers have not been getting adequate PPE to treat patients safely.

The Welsh Government has previously sought to reassure healthcare workers that there is adequate PPE available and that it is working hard to ensure it is distributed to where it needs to be.

Helen Whyley, Director RCN Wales, said however, that : “Nursing staff in allhealthcare settings across Wales are dealing with horrifying shortages of equipment."

Read more: PPE being washed and re-used as stocks run outRead more: Front line staff told to re-use PPE

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We have issued more than 16.2m extra items of PPE to frontline health and social care workers, from our pandemic stock. The four UK nations are working together on procurement of PPE, and we are working with Welsh industry to manufacture extra equipment.”

The findings from the Royal College survey show that in Wales:

  • Over a third (41%) of nursing staff treating high risk patients report being concerned about the supply of face and eye protection for their next shift

  • Nearly half (46%) report being concerned about the supply of filtering face piece respirator masks for their next shift

  • Around half (49%) of nursing staff treating COVID-19 patients not on ventilators said they had not received training on what standard PPE to wear and when they should wear it

  • Over half (59%) of all nursing staff report not having access to facilities for changing clothes when they wear a uniform and around two thirds (67%) do not have access to washing facilities

  • During this pandemic, 74% of nursing staff raised concerns they have had about PPE and only 18% felt their concerns had been fully addressed