Updated 07 January 2021.
The government advice on the use of PPE can be found within their infection prevention and control (IPC) guidance. These documents were last updated in October 2020. The guidance on this page should be used in association with a full risk assessment within the department/unit. Infection prevention and control teams should input into the risk assessment and in some cases, the estates department may need to be involved. Risk assessments should be reviewed and updated regularly in partnership with Health and Safety Reps and any time there is a change in government policy or local infection rates.
In companion with this advice, we recommend a risk assessment is carried out on all patients treated by our members. For clarity an initial quick risk assessment can be carried out by every radiographer/sonographer/practitioner by asking:
- Can I image or treat this patient without approaching within 2m of them?
If the answer is no then you need PPE. If you are not provided with appropriate PPE then you should not be treating or imaging that patient. For further guidance, please read the article PPE and the importance of workplace risk assessments.
What you need to know
- Your employer has a duty of care to staff under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which cannot be ignored or diluted.
- If your employer is not able to reduce the risk to the lowest that is reasonably possible by providing PPE, then there is no requirement on the staff to undertake that work. This applies to all health care professionals.
- Due to the sensitivity and specificity of lateral flow tests or rapid covid tests, it is advised that PPE is used for all patient encounters.
- Risk assessments must include the 2m minimum safe distance that we are all instructed to maintain. When the two metre rule is included in risk assessments, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that PPE should be used for ALL patients.
- The Society of Radiographers continues to advise members, in the strongest possible terms, that they must be provided with the minimal appropriate PPE when dealing with all patients.
- The SoR supports members who refuse to carry out examinations if they feel unsafe to do so. Please contact your local rep or Regional Officer as a matter of urgency if this applies to you.
- NHS staff must now wear a surgical mask at all times within the hospital setting (DHSC June 2020)
- Follow Public Health England guidance which states that “None of these physical barriers remove the need for frequent hand washing, good respiratory hygiene, and enhanced surface cleaning”
What about vulnerable patients?
- A risk assessment must be done on vulnerable patients, which includes all radiotherapy patients and the appropriate PPE worn.
- Your trust has a duty of care towards the patient and other service users, as well as the staff.
What about partners and supporters?
- The SoR recommend that where partners or supporters are encouraged to attend consultations, scans etc they must also be included in any risk assessment.
- It should only be safe for them to be present where safe social distancing can be maintained; where they wear masks; have no symptoms of Covid19; and agree they understand their role in the consultation and respect the requirements to keep everyone safe.