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BAME nursing staff experiencing greater PPE shortages despite COVID-19 risk warnings

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Amid warnings that BAME nursing staff may be disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, a Royal College of Nursing (RCN) survey reveals that they are more likely to struggle to secure adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) while at work.

The latest RCN member-wide survey shows that for nursing staff working in high-risk environments (including intensive and critical care units), only 43% of respondents from a BAME background said they had enough eye and face protection equipment. This is in stark contrast to 66% of white British nursing staff.

There were also disparities in access to fluid-repellent gowns and in cases of nursing staff being asked to re-use single-use PPE items.

The survey found similar gaps for those working in non-high-risk environments. Meanwhile, staff reported differences in PPE training, with 40% of BAME respondents saying they had not had training compared with just 31% of white British respondents.

Nearly a quarter of BAME nursing staff said they had no confidence that their employer is doing enough to protect them from COVID-19, compared with only 11% of white British respondents.

Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary, said: “It is simply unacceptable that we are in a situation where BAME nursing staff are less protected than other nursing staff.

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Source: Royal College of Nursing, 27 May 2020

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