Knowledge of COVID-19 symptoms, modes of transmission and treatment is evolving and information is being updated on a regular, sometimes daily, basis. What follows seeks to draw out some of the key resources/considerations to help you protect your staff.
You should ensure that your staff, particularly those that are treating and caring for those who are a possible or confirmed case of COVID-19, receive adequate information and training to allow them to protect themselves, their colleagues and patients.
The government’s COVID-19 guidance provides helpful information on:
- standard infection control procedures (SICPs): the basic infection prevention and control measures necessary to reduce the risk of transmission of infectious agents from both recognised and unrecognised sources.
- transmission based precautions (TBPs): are applied when SICPs alone are insufficient to prevent cross transmission of an infectious agent. They are additional infection control precautions required when caring for a patient with a known or suspected infectious agent
- approaches in different care settings: this includes care homes, primary care, outpatients, home visits, ambulances, and emergency departments and acute assessment units.
- aerosol-generating procedures (AGPs): aerosols generated by certain procedures healthcare professionals undertake can create additional risks. The guidance outlines the AGPs which are particular infectious and set out additional infection control measures for service users with suspected/confirmed COVID-19.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
It is your responsibility to ensure that your staff have access to suitable PPE equipment when required, and that they know how to use it. Staff will require training to understand how the equipment should be used, maintained and disposed of.
We have and continue to encourage our registrants to apply their own professional judgement when making a decision about treating and caring for those who are a possible or confirmed case of COVID-19. Their decisions should include an assessment of the risk to themselves and others and if they conclude that it is not safe to proceed, they are encouraged to raise this with you as their employer and manager. In an emergency situation, we have advised them to use their own professional judgement about how best to proceed. Please support your staff to make these difficult decisions.
The Standards we set for our registrants include a requirement to manage risk and:
- take all reasonable steps to reduce the risk of harm to service users, carers and colleagues as far as possible
- not do anything, or allow someone else to do anything, which could put the health or safety of a service user, carer or colleague at unacceptable risk.
- make changes to how they practise, or stop practising, if their physical or mental health may affect their performance or judgement, or put others at risk for any other reason.
Keeping up to date
The following resources will help you to keep up to date with current government guidance:
- COVID-19 guidance for health professions: provides guidance for primary care, those who have diagnosed a case within their facility, the investigation and clinical management of possible cases and guidance for ambulance trusts.
- COVID-19: guidance for first responders and others in close contact with symptomatic people with potential COVID-19: guidance for professionals and members of voluntary organisations who, as part of their normal roles, provide immediate assistance to a symptomatic person until further medical assistance arrives.
- COVID-19 guidance for sampling and diagnostics: Information for clinical diagnostic laboratories regarding safety, sampling and packaging specimens associated with COVID-19.