DAUK in The Times: updated PPE guidance fails to protect doctors

In new Public Health England guidelines, NHS workers are told that they can wear full personal protective equipment, including masks and visors, to see most patients.

Doctors and nurses had accused PHE’s guidance of being less stringent than that of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and so putting them at risk. The health watchdog said that it would now offer “enhanced PPE recommendations for a wide range of health and social care contexts”.

Public Health England said that it had confirmed with the WHO that its updates were consistent with the international recommendations. It attributed occasions when it recommended aprons but the WHO recommended gowns to the UK’s long-standing “bare below the elbow” policy for healthcare staff, which was introduced to reduce the spread of infections.

Doctors said that guidelines would only be useful if they had equipment. Rinesh Parmar, chairman of the Doctors’ Association UK, said: “The updated guidance fails to address the fundamental problem, the utter dire lack of personal protective equipment on the NHS frontline. No amount of guidance is a substitute for ensuring that doctors, nurses and frontline healthcare staff have appropriate PPE.”

PHE said: “We know that some frontline teams will be anxious about whether they have had the right PPE and we can reassure them that they have and will continue to do so. This guidance will protect stock levels from unnecessary use and support staff to use the right equipment.”