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Access to personal protective equipment in healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom: results from a nationwide cohort study (UK-REACH)

Version 2 2024-06-19, 19:53
Version 1 2023-07-17, 06:09
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-19, 19:53 authored by CA Martin, D Pan, J Nazareth, A Aujayeb, L Bryant, S Carr, LJ Gray, B Gregary, A Gupta, AL Guyatt, A Gopal, T Hine, C John, IC McManus, C Melbourne, LB Nellums, R Reza, S Simpson, MD Tobin, K Woolf, S Zingwe, K Khunti, M Pareek, L Gray, L Nellums, I Abubakar, KR Abrams, L Wain, E Dove, D Ford, R Free
Abstract Background Healthcare workers (HCWs) are at high risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Effective use of personal protective equipment (PPE) reduces this risk. We sought to determine the prevalence and predictors of self-reported access to appropriate PPE (aPPE) for HCWs in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods We conducted cross sectional analyses using data from a nationwide questionnaire-based cohort study administered between December 2020-February 2021. The outcome was a binary measure of self-reported aPPE (access all of the time vs access most of the time or less frequently) at two timepoints: the first national lockdown in the UK in March 2020 (primary analysis) and at the time of questionnaire response (secondary analysis). Results Ten thousand five hundred eight HCWs were included in the primary analysis, and 12,252 in the secondary analysis. 35.2% of HCWs reported aPPE at all times in the primary analysis; 83.9% reported aPPE at all times in the secondary analysis. In the primary analysis, after adjustment (for age, sex, ethnicity, migration status, occupation, aerosol generating procedure exposure, work sector and region, working hours, night shift frequency and trust in employing organisation), older HCWs and those working in Intensive Care Units were more likely to report aPPE at all times. Asian HCWs (aOR:0.77, 95%CI 0.67–0.89 [vs White]), those in allied health professional and dental roles (vs those in medical roles), and those who saw a higher number of COVID-19 patients compared to those who saw none (≥ 21 patients/week 0.74, 0.61–0.90) were less likely to report aPPE at all times. Those who trusted their employing organisation to deal with concerns about unsafe clinical practice, compared to those who did not, were twice as likely to report aPPE at all times. Significant predictors were largely unchanged in the secondary analysis. Conclusions Only a third of HCWs in the UK reported aPPE at all times during the first lockdown and that aPPE had improved later in the pandemic. We also identified key determinants of aPPE during the first UK lockdown, which have mostly persisted since lockdown was eased. These findings have important implications for the safe delivery of healthcare during the pandemic.



BMC Health Services Research



Article number





London, Eng.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal