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Image of the correct PPE equipment on a table, this included the hand rubbing gel, mask and gloves

Personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) helps to protect staff from contracting the virus, and therefore is central to both the wellbeing of staff and limiting the onward transmission of the virus to both other patients and colleagues.

The evidence for PPE is briefly considered on the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine’s website.

The appropriate form of PPE varies depending upon the healthcare setting (as shown in this table on Public Health England website). The correct type of PPE must be used by the healthcare staff in specified settings and must be put on correctly (donning) and taken off (doffing) appropriately to minimise the risk of onward transmission.

• For any direct care (within 2 metres) of possible or confirmed cases or for collection of nasopharyngeal swab(s), wear protective clothing in line with the standard infection control precautions, such as gloves, apron, a fluid resistant surgical mask (Type IIR) and goggles or visor, and keep exposure to a minimum.

• Subject to local risk assessment, PPE may also be indicated for work in settings where there is sustained transmission of covid-19.

• Aprons and gloves are for single use only. A fluid-resistant surgical mask (FRSM) and eye protection can be for single use or used for a full session. A session ends when the healthcare worker leaves the clinical care setting. A mask should be changed if it is moistened, damaged or soiled. It should be noted that masks become less effective when moistened.

Below is an illustration of the standard PPE which should be worn by primary care staff for face-to-face contact (within 2 meters) with the patient.

Infographic on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in primary care with an image of a doctor dressed in a full-length apron and wearing gloves, standard surgical mask and goggles/visor. The text reads 'For any direct patient care (within 2 meters) and for collection of nasopharyngeal swab(s), use standard PPE. Dispose of PPE as clinical waste after use.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in primary care
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© St George’s, University of London

Wearing PPE

Healthcare staff should follow instructions to put the PPE on (donning) correctly and to remove (doffing) it appropriately. These instructions are based on the guidance from Public Health England.

The diagrams below show this correct procedure.

Infographic of putting on PPE in primary care with a 6 image diagram on performing hand hygiene, putting on an apron, face mask, moulding the metal strap on the mask at the nose, wearing eye protection and putting on gloves.
Putting on personal protective equipment (PPE) in primary care
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© St George’s, University of London

Infographic of taking off PPC correctly in primary care. This is a 7 step diagram on how to first remove your gloves by turning them inside out as you remove them then washing your hands. Followed by removing the apron by breaking the back of neck first then the waist without touching the outside of the apron. Then removing the eye protecting with both hands, moving it away from the face and cleaning your hands again. Then the final steps on removing the face mask touching and breaking the ties only and finally washing your hands again.
Taking off personal protective equipment (PPE) in primary care
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© St George’s, University of London

Want to know more?

This short video from the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust shows the procedures that should be used when wearing and removing PPE.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

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This article is from the free online course:

Managing COVID-19 in Primary Care

St George's, University of London