UK Covid rules warning as NHS nurses demand action be taken (Image: PA)
By James Rodger
Bosses at the Royal College of Nursing have written to health officials across the UK demanding that they fall in line with World Health Organisation rules and make everyone ‘mask up’. They have written to nursing officers in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as the UK Health Security Agency to demand action be taken.
A spokesman said: “The existing national infection prevention and control manuals don’t require standardised masking for COVID-19, and decisions on respiratory protective equipment are left to local risk assessments. This is now inconsistent with WHO’s latest advice.
“We also have concerns about the adequacy of ventilation in general ward and outpatient areas within hospital buildings and believe that action must be taken to assess and improve this. Although evidence suggests that the global public health risks from the new variant are low, WHO has warned that onset of winter could increase the burden of respiratory infections in the Northern hemisphere.
“This comes when there are already unsustainable pressures on the health service.” They went on: “Figures show that there has been a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations, and the RCN argues that without proper protections, ill health could continue to rise in nursing staff and impact their ability to deliver safe and effective patient care.”
The letter by Patricia Marquis, the RCN’s director for England, calls for urgent revision to the NIPCM guidance to ensure the “universal implementation” of masks and respirators for health workers. Marquis wrote: “I am mindful of the current unsustainable pressures on the health service, with … a rise in cases and hospitalisations with Covid-19, alongside other respiratory viruses in general circulation.
“I am concerned that without proper protections ill-health and sickness will continue to rise in nursing staff and impact on their ability to deliver safe and effective patient care.” She added: “We are also concerned about the increased risks to patients from hospital-acquired respiratory infections.”
She went on: “We also have concerns about the adequacy of ventilation in general ward and outpatient areas within hospital buildings and believe that action must be taken to assess and improve this.”