Hospitals told to protect staff working in PPE during warm weather

A letter from Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive has urged hospitals to protect frontline staff wearing PPE amid a warning about the risks of heat stress.

Sent to hospital trusts, GPs and pharmacies, the letter said that doctors and nurses should be given regular breaks and recommends that a buddy system be established with people urged to watch for the signs of heat stress, which can lead to more serious heat stroke.

The memo also indicates that NHS managers should expect staff productivity to be affected while warning that demand for discardable PPE would grow since staff must discard their masks and gowns between each break, which they are being encouraged to take more regularly.

In 2018, around half of NHS hospital trusts reported at least one incident of overheating, and close to one in 10 (eight per cent) reported more than 50 incidents. Heat stress has similar symptoms to heat exhaustion and can lead to heat stroke if the person is unable to cool down.

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