PPE Update from Branch Convenor
You are clinicians in your own right. Some of the few who are autonomous. The first thing we are taught about treating patients is about your dynamic risk assessment. Yes, we hear what some managers are saying, that not every cough and temperature is Covid-19; but would your families appreciate you taking that risk?? The bottom line is that your risk assessment determines your PPE,and everything I’ve heard from Trust senior management supports this.
We have been listening to your concerns around Covid-19 PPE and trying to secure the best protection we can for our members. As a result of differences between RCUK advice (which is supported by the Royal College of Paramedics) and that of PHE, at the beginning of April we asked the trust to recognise the potential of chest compressions to generate aerosol particles and state that staff could chose to don level 3 PPE prior to chest compressions. Their response was to defer to PHE guidelines and the available evidence that did not support it. They did state they would support an individual clinician’s risk assessment, that they would not question that risk assessment and we put out a joint statement to that effect.
We have also been pushing the issue higher to Unison’s national ambulance sector. They have met with PHE who have advised that Trust’s may go beyond their level of PPE advice and they have no issue with it. There was a further statement released by RCUK earlier this week where they too acknowledge that PHE have stated Trusts may go beyond their recommended levels of PPE.
We are still receiving reports that staff are being questioned on their individual risk assessments. To prevent this we wanted a clear statement form the Trust that they that they support clinicians following RCUK guidance and would recognise chest compressions as potentially aerosol generating –requiring of level 3 PPE. The Trust refused to change their present stance but insisted that they will continue supporting clinicians own risk assessments. Where these are questioned by managers we have escalated it to senior managers who have intervened quickly.
In essence, the Trust are reluctant to advise of any specific level of PPE for any circumstance as this would undermine your own risk assessment. If you, as a clinician, following your risk assessment(factoring in the advice from PHE and RCUK), decide that level 3 PPE is appropriate for the task that you are to perform then you are empowered to do so. The Trust have agreed to include in clinical updates a reference to clinicians right to refuse to attend until level 3 PPE is available if their risk assessment determines it is required.
If your risk assessment is unduly challenged by a manager, we ask that you raise it with myself or another Unison representative and we will, along with senior Trust management, gently remind them of the independent clinicians dynamic risk assessment.
Remember that you are clinicians in your own right, trust your dynamic risk assessment and your training.
Senior Paramedic – Mentor – Black Members Officer – Co-Convenor