RCN calls for lessons to be learnt from pandemic response

Speaking at the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus, RCN director of nursing, policy and public affairs, Susan Masters, called for an inquiry to investigate how the UK prepared for and responded to the pandemic.

At the meeting, she told MPs: “Lessons from the previous wave and supply chain issues need to be identified and learned.”  

Throughout the pandemic, nursing staff highlighted that the sufficient supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) was a major safety issue. An RCN survey in April discovered half of nursing staff, including those working in the most high-risk environments, felt pressure to carry out their work without the levels of protection set out in official guidance.

“The change in PPE guidance halfway through the pandemic meant members felt unsure that they were adequately protected,” she commented. “Going forward, we need to see the UK government and employers ensure that all nursing staff working in all settings have access to adequate supplies of high-quality PPE.”

Susan further pointed out that health and care workers still face considerable barriers when accessing testing, with some nursing staff being told to drive vast distances for a testing appointment. She also highlighted key issues around mental wellbeing, staffing levels and pay.