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FFP3 masks needed as standard, demands RCN

12 January 2022

NEW DATA published by NHS England last week shows the number of hospital staff off work due to COVID-19 rose by almost 60% in the most recent week and has more than trebled in a month to nearly 40,000 staff in a single day.

The RCN says staff treating people with known or suspected COVID-19 must be given the highest grade FFP3 masks so they’re better protected from being infected at work. 

RCN director for England Patricia Marquis said, “Too many nursing staff are exposed to COVID-19 at work due to improper protection – highest grade FFP3 masks and priority testing need to be provided as standard.”

Airborne transmission of COVID-19 poses a significant risk to nursing staff working within two metres of a person with the virus, and the RCN insists this must be acknowledged within national infection prevention and control guidance. 

We continue to remind employers of their legal duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of workers from the risk of COVID-19. 

This includes making adequate PPE available to all staff as required, with training on use and face fit testing. If suitable risk assessments and PPE are not routinely provided, members should raise these concerns with their employer following the RCN’s guidance

Members are also encouraged to use our COVID-19 workplace risk assessment toolkit, which aims to support local decision making on the level of PPE required to protect them at work. 

The RCN has a full range of COVID-19 resources, which are continually updated in response to emerging issues. Find out more.