The RCN’s chief executive and general secretary, Dame Donna Kinnair has criticised the haphazard state of coronavirus testing for NHS workers. At a special video conference session of the House of Commons Select Committee on Health and Social Care, Dame Donna commented: ‘There is an issue with how we get nurses tested.
‘What I’m hearing is that nurses are sometimes driving for two hours to a testing station, often when they are feeling quite unwell, sometimes to be turned away because they don’t have an appointment,’ she said.
‘We really need some clear direction, both for the NHS but more so for social care as they do not have the same infrastructure as the NHS.’
Dame Donna called for a more co-ordinated response from employers to the issue. ‘Our STPs should give clear instructions about how to get tested and make sure that we get appointments for people who are feeling very unwell.’
Touching on another constant source of concern during the crisis, Dame Donna also revealed her worries about possible shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE).
In a response to Sarah Owen MP enquiring about nurses helping close family visiting dying patients, Dame Donna commented: ‘We are currently very worried about the possible shortage of PPE, particularly gowns, for staff to protect themselves.
‘We don’t know if we have enough PPE for them, let
alone giving it to relatives for end-of-life care.’
The session was opened by the Select Committee’s chair and former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who paid tribute to the ‘incredible courage shown by nurses’.
‘Their work is always up close and personal,’ said Mr Hunt. ‘And at high risk to themselves.’
The committee heard that 27 NHS staff have so far lost their lives in the pandemic.