Coronavirus: PPE shortage creating 'immense distress' for nurses

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A shortage of personal protective equipment is creating "immense distress and heightened anxiety" for Welsh nurses, it has been claimed.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) found 54% of those it surveyed have "felt pressured" to care for a Covid-19 patient "without adequate protection".

Of the 875 respondents, 49% said they had been asked to reuse single-use PPE.

The Welsh Government said it had issued "more than 16.2m extra items of PPE" to frontline workers.

Helen Whyley, Director RCN Wales, said: "The results are clear. Nursing staff in all healthcare settings across Wales are dealing with horrifying shortages of equipment.

"Nurses and health care support workers in care homes, the community and in hospitals are working long hours, under great stress and are risking their own health to protect others.

"The lack of PPE is creating a burden of immense distress and heightened anxiety for our nursing staff members and the patients they care for.

"The lack of PPE in healthcare settings is also, undoubtedly, having an impact on the spread and transmission of Covid-19. The Welsh Government needs not only to distribute PPE to health boards but to audit how this equipment is being distributed to the frontlines."

The survey also found 49% of nursing staff treating Covid-19 patients not on ventilators said they had not received training on what standard PPE to wear and when they should wear it.

The survey was conducted over the Easter bank holiday weekend.

Healthcare workers in England have been issued with new guidance to help cope with an expected shortage of PPE this weekend.

The advice from Public Health England includes reusing gowns or using different kit.

However, the Welsh Government has insisted there is no need to take such steps in Wales saying "we currently do not anticipate any disruption to supply".

A spokesman added: "We therefore do not expect this alert to be enacted in Wales at the present time."

Asked about RCN Wales' survey, the spokesman said: "We have issued more than 16.2m extra items of PPE to frontline health and social care workers, from our pandemic stock.

"The four UK nations are working together on procurement of PPE, and we are working with Welsh industry to manufacture extra equipment."

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