PPE guidance for NHS teams

GUIDANCE on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in medical and dental care has been published by clinical leaders across the UK.

It reflects the fact that coronavirus is now widespread in the community, meaning clinicians are more likely to see patients with the virus – some of whom may have minimal or no symptoms.

The guidance is also designed to protect PPE stock levels by advising on which equipment should be used in various circumstances.

It advises:

  • Any clinician working in a hospital, primary care or community care setting within 2 metres of a suspected or confirmed coronavirus COVID-19 patient should wear an apron, gloves, surgical mask and eye protection, based on the risk.
  • In some circumstances PPE, particularly masks and eye protection which is there to protect the health and care worker can be worn for an entire session and doesn’t need to be changed between patients, as long as it is safe to do so.
  • More detail on what PPE to use in different clinical scenarios as well as community settings, such as care homes and caring for individuals in their own homes.
  • When carrying out aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) clinicians should wear a higher level of protective equipment: these are listed out in the guidance.
  • Use of aprons rather than gowns for non-AGPs, including advice on thoroughly washing forearms if there is a risk of exposure to droplets, consistent with the UK policy of bare below the elbows and evidence reviews on the risks of healthcare acquired infections. There is enough supply of all safe PPE being recommended.
  • WHO recommends the use of FFP2 masks but the UK has gone further and recommends the use of FFP3 masks. However, the guidance is clear that FFP2 have been approved by the WHO and can be used safely if needed. It adds that there is good stock of FFP3 masks in the UK.

President of the Royal College of Physicians Andrew Goddard said: “[This] updated guidance provides what clinicians have been asking for - a single set of recommendations which cover all NHS settings.

“We know that there has been a lot of confusion and concern [recently]. I hope that this guidance will both reassure clinicians that they are being listened to, and give them the confidence that they are safe when caring for COVID-19 patients.”

  • Read the new guidance here