Speech and language therapists’ lives at risk of COVID-19 due to inadequate Government guidance on personal protective equipment
The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) has called on the Government today (2 April 2020) to urgently update its national guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure that speech and language therapists are not put at unnecessary risk of contracting COVID-19.
Working with both critical care patients who have COVID-19 and those recovering from the disease, speech and language therapists perform a number essential procedures. A significant number of these produce sputum, which is one of the most common ways in which the virus is transmitted.
These procedures include: assessing a person’s ability to swallow, cough reflex testing, care and management of patients who have had their voice boxes removed (laryngectomy) and providing respiratory support.
As the government’s guidance currently fails to adequately protect speech and language therapists, the RCSLT has produced guidance on personal protective equipment for its members.
The oversight in government guidance is resulting in speech and language therapists being refused appropriate PPE by local infection control teams. This puts the lives of speech and language therapists, their patients, colleagues and families at risk and will ultimately impact on the COVID-19 workforce’s capacity and durability.
Chief Executive of the RCSLT, Kamini Gadhok MBE, says: “I’m so proud of the way speech and language therapists have risen to the current challenge. My paramount concern is ensuring they are kept as safe as possible and to ensure that this disease is not passed to them or others around them, including patients.
“I have written a letter to the Government today urging them to update their guidance urgently to ensure that speech and language therapists can access the protective equipment they need to do their jobs safely.” (See notes to editors.)
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