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Understanding Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

New PPE guidance was issued (03/04/20) by Public Health England in response to the changing level of risk of healthcare exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in the UK. The new guidance approved by the Academy of Royal Colleges, WHO and HSE aims to ensure that both staff and patients are protected within all healthcare settings.

This new ‘Place Based’ approach is to ensure the use of PPE and outlines in detail when, where and which PPE should be worn.

The below is an official guideline provided by Public Health England and should be adhered to by all NHS Trusts. Should you be challenged on the use of PPE or feel PPE provided is not adequate, please present the guideline information below for your personal safety.

The main changes outlined are as followed:

For staff working on ‘cold’ wards including maternity, you should ensure you wear a disposable plastic apron and disposable gloves when delivering direct care to a patient. Direct care includes all care provided within 2 metres of the patient.
 
If you risk assess a likelihood of contamination with splashes or droplets of blood or other bodily fluids, then you should also wear a fluid resistant surgical mask and eye protection . A supply of suitable eye protection is being delivered to all wards immediately and should arrive this evening.
 
For staff working in ‘hot’ wards, specifically Critical Care; HDU; ED resus; Ward 13; theatres; endoscopy units for upper respiratory, ENT or upper GI endoscopy and other areas where aerosol-generating procedures are regularly performed:
 

  • Wear a disposable fluid-resistant gown, apron, gloves, FFP mask and eye protection.

  • You can wear your gown for the whole session on the ward (gloves and apron needs to be changed between patients), but all PPE should be removed when leaving the ward.

 
For staff working in a ‘hot’ area outside of those listed above:

  • If not within 2m of patients, wear a surgical mask at all times.

  • If providing direct patient care within 2m of patient, then wear fluid resistant surgical mask, disposable apron, gloves, and eye protection.

  • If performing a single aerosol generating procedure you wear a disposable fluid-resistant gown, gloves, FFP mask and eye protection.

 
You can read the full guidance to PPE below including key changes to both face and eye protection.

PHE Recommended PPE for healthcare workers by secondary care clinical context (Download)
PHE Recommended PPE for primary outpatient and community care by setting (Download)
PHE Additional considerations of COVID-19 (Download)