Clinical physiologists may find themselves working in unusual circumstances and away from the formality of their usual work environment and for a prolonged period. The onus is on all registrants to maintain the RCCP Standards to ensure that the clinical physiology professions maintains public confidence and protection in these unprecedented times.
We recognise that all practicing clinical physiologists will be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic but some more significantly than others. Cardio-respiratory physiologists may be increasingly needed on the frontline. Respiratory physiologists may have increasing demand on their expert skills to provide advice about lung function testing and other respiratory diagnostics/therapies by hospitals, the community, patients and staff. Senior staff may be re-deployed to deliver and support specialist services (Non-Invasive Ventilation (NIV), oxygen, blood gases – supporting respiratory wards and HDU/ITU facilities). Junior staff may be left with less supervision performing routine services or could be re-deployed contacting patient’s at home to perform virtual CPAP review or may be trained to support ward staff performing routine observations/care.
Whatever challenges our registrants meet during this crisis period, they have an obligation to continue to follow the Standards of conduct, performance and ethics, in particular they must:
- take all reasonable steps to reduce the risk of harm to service users, carers and colleagues as far as possible (6.1);
- not do anything, or allow someone else to do anything which could put the health or safety of a service user, carer or colleague at unacceptable risk (6.2); and
- make changes to how they practice, or stop practising, if their physical or mental health may affect their performance or judgement, or put others at risk for any other reason.
No clinical physiologist should be expected to practise beyond their clinical competence. Anyone who is working in an unfamiliar environment must receive appropriate induction, be familiar with local governance arrangements and have undertaken training (e.g. the use of PPE including fit testing or equivalent and procedures for donning and doffing effectively).
Clinical Physiologists should be given a clear line of supervision that is appropriate to their level of competence. RCCP would recommend you get in touch with your professional body / trade union, who will be able to offer profession specific advice relating to your scope of practice and how to raise concerns with your employer.
Employers continue to have a duty towards their employees, including during any redeployment or when working from home; this can include their physical health. Thought should be given to whether any support can be given to employees concerning equipment (seating, monitors etc) that might be needed throughout their time at home and their mental health, which is likely to be strained by long periods of social isolation.
For Health and Wellbeing support please see the following links:
RCCP COVID 19 Mental and Physical Health Resources
Wellbeing - foundations-in-mindfulness