Saturday 06 June 2020

Care home employers hide behind ‘vague’ face mask guideline: FNV


Some 60% of nursing home staff and people employed as home nurses are not wearing face masks while one in three hospital workers go without, a survey by union FNV among 1,357 care workers has found.

The finding will be presented by the FNV in a meeting on Tuesday with medical care minister Martin van Rijn.

Van Rijn said ten days ago he would issue a new guideline for nursing home staff and home nurses, giving them the right to wear face masks. But employers who are unwilling to allow workers to wear them point to health institute RIVM’s official stance that face masks are not necessary because they would create a false sense of security.

Only medical staff are advised to wear face masks but, the survey found, some hospital staff have no access to protective material either. This includes people working on wards without COVID-19 patients and in places where keeping a distance of 1.5 metres is impossible.

One in three said they regularly found themselves in close proximity of patients. ‘I make echocardiograms,’ one nurse said, ‘and the patients face is 50 centimetres from mine. I have been coughed on numerous times.’

‘It is scandalous that care staff are still out there without any protection at all and at risk of catching the virus,’  FNV deputy chairwoman Kitty Jong said. ‘Employers are still hiding behind the vague guidelines of the RIVM. The minister needs to make good on his promise to come up with a guideline which will offer safety to all care workers. Every day they go without is one too many and I will tell him so again.’

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