Health and social care staff in Scotland can now access FFP3 masks based on risk assessment and personal preferences.
The Scottish government has issued new guidance to NHS boards and registered care home providers outlining the process line managers and staff should follow when requesting access to FFP3 (respirator) masks in place of Type IIR (surgical masks).
The updated guidance means staff in Scotland can request a risk assessment from their line manager if they feel they need to have access to an FFP3 mask to ensure their personal safety.
FFP3 masks will continue to be accessible to staff undertaking an aerosol generating procedure (AGP) in a respiratory pathway and in a non-respiratory pathway where a member of staff has concerns about potential Covid-19 exposure, as before.
RCN Scotland welcomed the update, having repeatedly called for nursing staff to have access to higher levels of PPE and robust risk assessment processes.
In a statement, Colin Poolman, director of RCN Scotland, said it was ‘long overdue’ and meant healthcare workers should be able to request higher levels of protection if they feel they need it.
The RCN has developed a Covid-19 risk assessment toolkit to support healthcare professionals consider and manage risks associated with the transmission of Covid-19, and aid local decision making on the level of personal protective equipment required.
Current infection prevention and control (IPC) UK Government guidance recommends FFP3 masks when caring for patients with suspected and confirmed seasonal respiratory viruses including Covid-19 when carrying out AGPs.
The guidance is likely to continue recommending universal masking in health and care settings by all staff, patients and visitors until at least May 2022.
This article was first published on our sister title Nursing in Practice.