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RCN leaders condemn trolling of nurses for PPE shortage concerns

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Trolling One victim of trolling posted: ‘We don’t understand why you would abuse people for wanting to stay safe and keep their patients safe as well. We just want to do our jobs.’

Senior figures at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have condemned the trolling of nurses speaking out about (Personal Protective Equipment) PPE shortages.

Nurses active on social media have reported being abused for talking about the issues they are facing during COVID-19, including the lack of PPE. One victim of trolling posted: ‘We don’t understand why you would abuse people for wanting to stay safe and keep their patients safe as well. We just want to do our jobs.’

Susan Masters, national director of nursing, policy and practice at the RCN, said: ‘Trolling nurses for highlighting shortages in PPE they are personally experiencing is unacceptable. Nurses have enough to deal with without feeling fearful of social media’.

Mike Adam, director of RCN England, said: ‘After seeing social media criticism of RCN members raising concerns over
PPE I would point anyone to listen to the voice of over 13 500 of our members below before they choose to intimidate those caring for others.’

His warning follows a recent RCN survey (18 Apri) where half of nursing staff including those working in the most high-risk environments have felt pressure to carry out their work without the levels of protection set out in official guidance.High-risk environments include areas where patients with or suspected of having COVID-19 are being treated on ventilators.

Of those treating possible or confirmed COVID-19 patients in these high-risk areas, around half (51%) reported that they are being asked to re-use items of PPE that are marked ‘single use’ by manufacturers.

Of those treating COVID-19 patients elsewhere, over a third (39%) said they were being asked to re-use this equipment.

The findings are from a survey of 14 000 nurses conducted by the RCN to provide
a snapshot of PPE shortages over the
Easter weekend. The results will be shared directly with associated government agencies and regulators, including the Health and Safety Executive.

Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said: ‘These figures unmask the gut-wrenching shortages nursing staff are dealing with in all health care settings.

‘It is little wonder they are in such fear for their own safety and that of their patients’.

The RCN plans to repeat this survey on a regular basis to assess how PPE and infection control are changing over time during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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