I must confess to being a little bemused reading the CP online story (19-02-21), NHS trust staff told PPE they wear is 'appropriate'.

What do we know?

We know the UK is currently fighting a novel SARS-CoV-2 variant first identified in November 2020, that is now the predominant strain in the UK due to its very high level of transmission.

We also know that normal everyday surgical masks offer very little personal protection, they are designed primarily to reduce the transmission of viral particles should the wearer happen to be infectious.

It is the higher grade, more expensive, FFP3 masks which offer the wearer greater personal protection.

We also know from February’s IW NHS Trust Board meeting the number one reason for absenteeism is Covid related, followed by continuing high levels of stress and anxiety.

When faced with a highly infectious pandemic, hospitals are only as safe as their weakest link. Paramedics, A and E staff, indeed all those on the frontline will inevitably find themselves working in situations that pose hazardous risks.

Doctors, nurses, cleaners, porters etc, can not in real time be 100 per cent sure of the Covid status of colleagues, or members of the public they come into contact with directly, or indirectly, given the virus can be transmitted by surface contamination.

One hopes that neither the highly successful vaccination programme, nor the cost implications associated with FFP3 masks, will be used by government and Public Health England, as an excuse to validate the use of low specification PPE in high-risk situations.

A hospital's most valuable resource is its staff and only a fool jeopardises employee safety in a bid to save money.

Providing high-grade PPE isn’t simply a moral and ethical issue, it also sends a very powerful message to the workforce they are valued and their health and wellbeing is of paramount importance.

Something society, and our island in particular with its finite human medical resources, risks damaging at its peril.

Which is why I am sure St Mary’s CEO, Maggie Oldham, will be taking a very considered approach, mindful of the views and anxieties of those who are operating in the eye of the storm.

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