NHS staff treating Covid patients should be given much more protective facewear than thin surgical masks to help them avoid getting infected during the Omicron rise, doctors say.
The British Medical Association (BMA), Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) and Doctors’ Association UK are calling for frontline personnel to be given FFP3 masks.
Making the much higher-quality face masks standard issue would save the lives of health workers who fall ill as a result of treating Covid patients, the BMA said. “At this critical point in the pandemic this is extremely urgent – a matter of life and death,” said Prof Raymond Agius, the acting chair of the doctors’ union’s occupational health committee.
FFP3 masks, also known as filtering facepiece respirators, have been shown in a trial in Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge to reduce the number of healthcare staff who become infected.
However, the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) guidance on personal protective equipment, updated last week, only recommends their use in limited circumstances.
“With a high transmissible new strain now circulating, and clear evidence that Covid-19 spreads in small airborne particles, healthcare workers must be given the best possible protection against the virus. Surgical masks don’t give the necessary protection against airborne transmission of Covid,” Agius said.
The BMA has written to every hospital trust in England demanding that any health professional treating patients who are or may be Covid-positive should be routinely issued with FFP3s, which are much more expensive than the surgical masks usually provided.
Surgical masks are “unsuitable” given the threat Covid poses, the BMA believes.
Source: The Guardian, 27 December 2021
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