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18 June 2020

PPE at a glance

We have created this PPE at a glance resource to provide an overview of when and how to use PPE, how to estimate what you need and a list of potential suppliers. This is part of our Covid-19 guidance and support for members

When to use PPE?
What PPE to use?
How to use PPE?
How much PPE should I order?
How to access PPE?

When to use PPE?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises to "only use PPE as a last resort". This is because you should first focus on safe systems and other controls (Source: HSE, PPE).

During the pandemic, this means in a typical primary eye care setting you should first focus on ensuring there are procedures in place to help people comply with:

  • social distancing guidance 
  • best practice hand and respiratory/cough hygiene
  • cleaning and disinfection protocols 
  • avoiding face touching
  • other safe systems – e.g. Perspex shields, slit-lamp breath shields etc

For example, if you can redesign a task so that it is performed at  >2m away, then this is preferable to being within 2m and using PPE. Where you cannot do this, for example using a slit-lamp, you should use a breath shield and ensure the appropriate PPE is used and used correctly. 

What PPE to use?

The College of Optometrists offers open-source guidance on what PPE to use in primary eye care settings. This covers clinical and non-clinical staff.

Read the College of Optometrists' PPE guidance.

Dispensing opticians and contact lens opticians can follow the same advice as above.

To help we have created this PPE at a glance one page summary table

How to use PPE?

PHE has produced posters which explain how to use PPE. The most relevant to primary eye care settings, for non-aerosol generating procedures, are:

HPS has created a short video which explains how to use PPE in primary care settings correctly:

Alternatively, you can use the following PHE videos for health and social care settings and a guide for care homes.

How much PPE should I order?

You will need to have a new pair of gloves and apron for each patient you examine within two metres. Type IIR masks can be used for an entire session unless damaged or for example you touch it etc. A session might last four hours but could be less.

To help independent practice owner members we have created this PPE estimator. You can estimate how much PPE to order by completing the grey boxes.

Members can also contact us if they would like help estimating how much PPE they might need, for example if you have multiple sites or a different operating model. Please email: [email protected].

How to access PPE?

In addition to your current supplier, you can access a list of potential suppliers here

Opticians in Scotland and Wales can now also order personal protective equipment from the LOCU and PES PPE shop for England. We understand that LOCSU is also exploring opening the shop to practices in Northern Ireland. 

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