WHO guidelines, which currently recommend health staff wear a full gown and visor.Image copyright
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World Health Organization guidelines currently recommend health staff wear a full gown and visor

Guidance for health workers on personal protective equipment is expected to be updated within two days, the BBC has been told.

There have been calls for greater clarity on PPE as frontline staff deal with coronavirus.

The NHS Confederation says staff feel “at risk” of contracting Covid-19 unless they wear PPE for all patients.

Documents also show NHS Supply Chain “hasn’t been able to manage” delivery of the items, such as masks, to them.

The Department of Health has not yet confirmed the guidance will be updated.

But the prime minister said on Wednesday that he had been “assured” stocks of PPE were on the way to NHS staff, and the Army had distributed 7.5 million pieces of equipment in 24 hours.

Health authorities across the UK say PPE – which also includes items such as gloves and gowns – should only be warn if patients have suspected symptoms or have been diagnosed with coronavirus.

Two GPs who say they have coronavirus symptoms have told the BBC they believe they contracted the virus while seeing patients.

Dr Claire Taylor, is self isolating at home with shortness of breath, a cough and a fever.

“I saw patients that were not seen as high risk and yet I’ve picked up Covid,” she said.

“We need all medical professionals to be given proper personal protection when they’re face-to-face with any patient. I feel very strongly about this.”

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Dr Claire Taylor believes she contracted coronavirus while working at her GP surgery

One GP recently treated a man with a head injury at her north London practice “who appeared to be intoxicated, and was bleeding from his head”. She said he had no cough and no fever and was sent to hospital.

He later tested positive for the coronavirus. The GP now has symptoms but has not been tested herself.

Many frontline staff are “really, really scared”, according to Ruth Rankine, director of primary care at NHS Confederation, the body representing health service trusts.

“When they go in and see a patient… even though they’re not displaying symptoms, they may still have the virus”, she said.

“We are seeing increasing numbers of primary care workforce going off sick as a result.”

On Wednesday, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) wrote to Health Secretary Matt Hancock to ask if GPs should wear it for all face-to-face consultations.

It said patients with the virus but no symptoms could still infect staff.

The BBC has obtained documents showing the guidance on PPE is expected to be updated.



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