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SOM Statements re COVID-19

Posted by Ann Caluori | Wed, 25/03/2020 - 14:29


COVID-19 testing should be available for key workers  

One vital aspect to control the spread of COVID-19 and support the response is testing. The Government has a target of 25,000 tests to be available through a swab - useful for patients and NHS staff. We are concerned with ethical practice where tests are available privately, for example by private Occupational Health providers. From an ethical point of view we believe tests should be offered to key workers first – from the police, fire service, care home workers and health professionals. The tests should also meet public health standards of efficacy using reliable tests and following normal ethical principles.


Endorsed by SOM, BOHS, CIEHF, FOHN, VRA and others


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) availability and current recommendations

The understanding of science around PPE is developing rapidly e.g. as to when surgical masks are adequate or powered respirators are required for particular groups of health care professionals. We would like to see the Government providing clarity as the science changes and exploring options to upgrade and make available more effective PPE, if that is required by science and when needed.


The Government has stated there is no problem with PPE supplies, which seems to be at odds to what we are hearing from front line professionals. We hope the Government will rapidly ensure all health care professionals have the correct PPE supplies. We will be writing to Matt Hancock about whether there is a shortage of PPE and if there is anything we can do to support supply or modify controls.


Note: guidance documents are available at:

Public Health England

Health and Safety Executive


Endorsed by SOM, BOHS, CIEHF, FOHN, VRA 


We are also concerned of the risk of dermatitis from frequent hand washing. This can lead to unnecessary absence from work by health professionals. On the basis of research in this area, we would recommend daily use of hand Moisturiser.


Endorsed by SOM, BOHS, CIEHF, FOHN