02 May 2020
Following a survey of its membership, the British Dietetic Association (BDA) have uncovered that 54% of UK dietitians feel they are unable to appropriately follow social distancing guidelines at work – increasing their risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus.
Dietitians report that they continue to be required to attend workplaces in person to undertake tele-health calls and community health activities that could otherwise be undertaken at home or moved online.
One BDA member reported that their NHS office “is like normal, no distancing measures, sharing a stagnant space with around 60 people. It feels inevitable I’ll get something and bring it home.”
A lack of laptops, phones and other equipment, as well as available space is making it difficult for dietitians to ensure appropriate social distancing and slow the potential spread of COVID-19 amongst healthcare professionals. In the words of one member: “We feel like lambs to the slaughter! Very little is being done to stop the spread around the hospital.”
Annette Mansell-Green, BDA Trade Union Director, says “It is simply unacceptable that as a result of years of underfunding, our NHS is now unable to provide the basic technology, like laptops, to support staff to work from home where they can.
“In direct contradiction to government guidance, our members are telling us they are being forced to come into hospitals to sit in cramped rooms to provide tele-care and remote appointments that could easily be done from home with the right equipment.
“We have even heard of dietitians with health conditions that make them vulnerable to covid-19 not being allowed to work from home.
“Office workers across the country are provided with technology by their employer to support social distancing, why are our vital NHS workers being denied this protection?”
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Notes to the Editor:
- The British Dietetic Association (BDA), founded in 1936, is the professional association and trade union for dietitians in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is the nation’s largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals with over 9,500 members.
- Dietitians are highly qualified health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat diet and nutrition problems at an individual and wider public health level. They are statutorily regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), alongside other Allied Health Professions.
- Dietitians use the most up to date public health and scientific research on food, health and disease, which they translate into practical guidance to enable people to make appropriate lifestyle and food choices. They work in the NHS, private practice, industry, education, research, sport, media and government. Their advice influences food and health policy across the spectrum from government and global industry to local communities and individuals.