Keeping healthcare professionals safe during the Coronavirus outbreak
Health care workers are among the most at risk of contracting the virus and are also bearing a significant burden of this pandemic.
Whether it’s NHS doctors and nurses, care workers, A&E staff or anaesthetists, these people are working on the frontline day in day out and are both at risk of catching the virus and/or spreading it unknowingly to the most vulnerable patients.
There has been much debate as to whether or not medial workers have been provided with the right equipment to protect themselves such as masks, gloves, gowns and goggles, and if they have enough of these items to go around.
Further questions have been raised around the level of testing that has been done to determine whether frontline staff have in fact come in to contact with people carrying the virus or are carrying it themselves.
Without reducing the risk of these key workers becoming infected, there is a greater worry.
How would the NHS cope if a large volume of their employees had to self-isolate or got ill themselves and couldn’t continue working at this unprecedented time?
Aside from providing adequate equipment and easier access to testing, there are many other ways to ensure we keep healthcare professionals safe. Afterall, their safety is paramount if they are going to have chance of keeping the wider population safe.
Impose visitor restrictions
With the limited testing being carried out at present, it is impossible to know whether or not people entering the hospitals visiting friends and relatives are carriers. If they are, they could easily spread the virus across an entire ward without realising. Limiting the number of visitors to hospitals and care homes would reduce this risk and therefore protect frontline workers in the long run.
Testing at GP surgeries
If tests were carried out at GP surgeries, it would enable hospitals to have a clear idea of what they were dealing with when a patient comes in. This would have multiple benefits for hospital workers, namely that they could isolate infected patients immediately to prevent further spread of the virus within the hospital, and the medical professionals handling these cases could be prioritised for full protective gear.
Prioritise Employee Wellbeing
These are unprecedented and uncertain times which is compounded by the long hours and high volume of work expected of healthcare workers. It’s important that the mental wellbeing of this workforce is at the top of the agenda. Promoting a strong sense of community, offering counselling services, making healthy food choices easily available and encouraging rest days as much as possible. There has been huge admiration from the public at the incredible work being done by medical workers which is hopefully filtering through and helping boost morale.
It’s clear that more needs to be done by everyone to protect our frontline health workers. The government need to ensure they are protected when doing their jobs and the public need to pay attention to guidelines in order to minimise further pressures on the NHS as much as possible.
It’s uncertain how long this will go on for but one thing that is for certain is how important that healthcare employees are to the future of our country.
Take a look at the below links for further information and guidance for Health and Social Care workers:-
- COVID-19: guidance on home care provision
- Actions if a careworker is concerned they have COVID-19.
- Actions if a service user has symptoms of COVID-19 – This includes the use of fluid-repellent face masks, gloves and aprons (and eye-protection where necessary); cleaning and refuse disposal.
- Providing care to an asymptomatic service user, but where someone else in the home has COVID-19 – The actions vary according to the situation
- Where neither the individual, nor the care worker, has symptoms of COVID-19 – This includes handwashing and the use of standard PPE (ie. Gloves and aprons only).