Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Sandra Gidley has co-signed a letter alongside the heads of other healthcare professions urging Boris Johnson to ensure health workers are protected from new strains of Covid.
The prime minister is reminded in the letter that the disease has claimed the lives of 930 health and care workers in the UK so far, with many more experiencing the debilitating affects of long Covid.
The letter warned him that employees in the healthcare sector are at “three to four times greater risk of developing and dying from Covid-19 than the general public” and current measures to reduce the spread of the virus are “inadequate".
It also warned that UK Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) guidance on the use of personal protective equipment does “not accurately depict the airborne risks when sharing health and care settings including working in patients’ homes and public buildings” or match up with guidelines from the Health and Safety Executive.
In the letter, the bodies said they want the government to compel all health and care providers to examine and improve the quality of ventilation “to reduce the risks of airborne spread” and alter IPC guidelines to “increase the level of respiratory protection" for health and care workers who provide care for "people with known or suspected Covid-19".
They also want all guidance to be updated in line with evidence on airborne transmission, gather and publish data on workers who have caught the virus as a result of occupational exposure and publish all available scientific evidence on airborne transmission in healthcare settings and update information where it is needed.
“Pharmacists and pharmacy teams are on the front-line of the Covid-19 pandemic and have shown enormous dedication to supporting patient care under the most challenging circumstances,” Gidley said.
“As our understanding of Covid-19 variants evolves, it’s vital that guidance and support keeps pace so that all health and care workers receive the protection they need.”