Don't risk it!
26 Mar 2020
Professor Derek Alderson
Professor Derek Alderson is the President of The Royal College of Surgeons of England
Surgeons are now being infected with COVID-19 or are self-isolating following a potential contact. The College is aware that in some instances, this might reflect inadequate protection in the workplace.
You must not put yourself, your colleagues or patients at unnecessary risk through potential viral exposure as a result of inadequate personal protection.
We urge every member of the surgical team to make sure that they fully understand the advice provided by their own specialty association or society. Please ensure that you are familiar with instructions and procedures within your Trust, and that you understand infection control and levels of protection, in line with NHS guidance.
We ask everyone to adhere to all of these instructions. If you believe that there is conflicting advice, make sure that it is brought to the attention of senior management so that it can be promptly resolved. NHS England tell us that if protective equipment is used appropriately, in line with guidance, then there is sufficient stock. By implication, if too many people use the highest level of protection in situations where it is not required, the supply issues will continue.
In guidance for surgeons we published on 20 March, we repeated the need to protect the workforce, and flagged the need for training in use of personal protective equipment (PPE). In some Trusts equipment is still not available. If that is the case in your Trust, the government has set up a 24-hour hotline for Trusts to order more supplies. As for training, HEE have put online free training courses.
I hosted a webinar last night to discuss this, and the raft of work underway here at the College in support of the national effort. You can watch the recording here.