Updated IPC guidance published
NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) has published a letter to support NHS service providers including community pharmacy contractors, to interpret the updated Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) guidance published by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
UKHSA has updated its UK IPC guidance with new COVID-19 pathogen-specific advice for health and care professionals. This advice should be read alongside the National Infection Prevention and Control Manual (NIPCM) for England and applies to all NHS settings or settings where NHS services are delivered.
The key points in the NHSE&I letter for community pharmacy are summarised below (the exact interpretation will depend on your local risk assessments):
For health and care staff, including pharmacy staff
- Staff should continue to wear facemasks as part of personal protective equipment (PPE) required for transmission-based precautions when working in COVID-19/respiratory care pathways, and when clinically caring for suspected/confirmed COVID-19 patients. This is likely to include settings where untriaged patients may present such as emergency departments or primary care, depending on local risk assessment.
- Staff are in general not required to wear facemasks in non-clinical areas, for example, offices, social settings, unless this is their personal preference or there are specific issues raised by a risk assessment.
- Patients with respiratory symptoms who are required to attend for emergency treatment should wear a facemask/covering, if tolerated, or offered one on arrival.
- All other patients are not required to wear a facemask unless this is a personal preference.
Any IPC measures beyond those contained in the above publications is a matter for local discretion.
Contractors are reminded that they can access free PPE and related items using the Department of Health and Social Care PPE portal platform.