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Covid: Nurses condemn 'fundamentally flawed' PPE rules

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Nurse leaders are lobbying government to update "fundamentally flawed" guidance on personal protective equipment.

The Royal College of Nursing says the existing recommendations are based on out-of-date evidence. One nurse told the BBC she had not been allowed to wear a higher-grade mask, despite having to go into the homes of patients with Covid.

The nurse, who wishes to remain anonymous, wanted to use what's known as an FFP3 mask that filters out infectious aerosols. But she says her employers insisted on following national guidance, that most health staff should wear thinner surgical masks, instead.

This comes at a time of mounting concern among many healthcare organisations that personal protective equipment (PPE) is inadequate.

A new report for the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) criticises the official guidelines for PPE as "fundamentally flawed" because they're based on out-of-date evidence. It says that the risk of infection by aerosols is not given enough emphasis and that key research papers highlighting the possibility of airborne transmission have not been considered.

The RCN's report concludes that key research papers on aerosols appear to have been ignored and that the terms used to search for new papers were likely to be "biased against" those on airborne transmission.

The lead author of the study, Prof Dinah Gould, says she is "very disappointed" at the review for not taking into account the latest science.

"A year into the pandemic, the review needs replacing. It needs updating and we should be able to offer healthcare workers and patients better than what we're offering them now."

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Source: BBC News, 7 March 2021

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