GMB union PPE use for Carers Covid-19

The union still have concerns regarding the guidance issued to social care workers on the use of PPE

27 May 2020

The issue of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in social care has been one of the huge problems faced by GMB union members working in social care during the Coronavirus Pandemic. The social care workforce were originally excluded from Government and Public Health England Guidance. The GMB union was successful in getting this guidance amended.

This can be accessed at:

The NHS has now been asked by the Department of Health & Social Care to assist social care settings in the training of Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC), which will include training for staff on the appropriate use of PPE.

Guidance was amended again on 21st May 2020 and can be accessed at:

Key points to note are:

  • Gloves and aprons should be used for single use only and disposed after each service user / resident contact.

  • Sessional use means 1 worker, 1 shift.

  • Gowns or coveralls can be used for an entire session of work in higher risk areas.

  • Fluid repellant surgical masks (FRSM) and eye protection can be used for an entire session of work.

  • Any PPE that is suitable for reuse (in cases of extreme shortages) is to be reused by that individual only and not shared amongst workers, with appropriate cleaning performed after each use. A detergent product either combined / sequentially with a decontamination product should be used to clean the item, rinsed thoroughly and left to dry.

  • Reusable face masks should be carefully folded so the outer surface is held inwards and should be stored in a clean sealable bag / box marked with the persons name. Fit checks should be performed each time a respirator is donned if it is reused. 

  • Hand hygiene should be practiced and extended to exposed forearms, after the removal of PPE.

  • All staff should adhere to social distancing (2 meters) wherever possible, particularly if not wearing PPE and in non-clinical communal areas.

  • Staff should take regular breaks and rest periods. Breaks should be staggered to limit the numbers of staff in communal rest areas.

The GMB trade union has already written to the Care Minister raising a number of concerns we have with regards the UK Government Guidance issued to care homes, in comparison with the much superior guidance that has been published by the World Health Organisation. The union still have concerns regarding the guidance issued to social care workers on the use of PPE and we will be contacting Public Health England on these issues.

GMB North West & Irish Region

GMB North West & Irish Region