FFP3 resilience principles in acute settings

A core priority for both NHS trusts and the DHSC is to ensure FFP3 resilience at both the national and organisation level for any future new variant of concern, or another respiratory virus that may lead to an epidemic or a pandemic.’

To support this requirement, guidance notes in the form of FFP3 resilience principles have been developed by the Department of Health and Social Care for acute clinical settings where FFP3s are used.

All FFP3 users should be fit tested and using at least two different masks

  • UK Make masks will be used for all new Fit Tests (high supply resiliency and excellent fit test performance) when appropriate for the individual
  • Fit testing will be repeated at least every two years

Trusts are encouraged to access the various fit testing resources and develop a long term, sustainable fit testing programme that will not only ensure current staff are fit tested to at least two masks but also ensure repeat tests and tests for new staff are managed on a rolling programme.

In addition, further support and advice on fit testing can be found on insert link.

FFP3 users should interchangeably wear the masks they are fit tested.

  • Mask rotation reduces the risk of skin damage and other conditions linked to extended PPE use and allows users to build familiarity with several FFP3 

It is important that an individual is fit tested and wearing the most appropriate mask to enable the most protection.  Alternating between masks that have been successfully fit tested reduces the risk of pressure sores and other conditions linked with using the same specific PPE item and allows the individual to be familiar and confident in using the portfolio of FFP3 masks specific to them.

Should there ever be an instance where a particular mask was not available this level of resilience would ensure that there is no disruption to staff capabilities, duties and impact on patient care as all staff will be able to revert to an alternative FFP3 mask.

Trusts should ensure that a range of FFP3 masks are available to users on the frontline and overall should not exceed 25% usage on any one type of FFP3

  • This supports user ability to rotate masks and wear the mask that is right for them

As trusts begin to implement and embed these principles, we would expect to see the percentage usage of FFP3s shift across a range of different masks.

Nationally, this principle will be monitored by reviewing the FFP3s requested by trusts noting the percentage change over time, overlaid by the data held on the number of individuals fit tested to each mask type within a Trust to identify where fit testing is also changing practice in usage.

Frontline stocks will be managed at no more than 7-10 days per SKU

  • This ensures that stock rooms have enough space to hold a wide range of FFP3 and more UK Make is available
  • High local stockpiles of FFP3 that have been stored due to previous ordering/delivery arrangements should be considered for redistribution

This principle ensures that there is the right stock available to an individual to access the masks that they are successfully fit tested to, and enables trusts to stock a wide range of masks.

We recognise that this principle requires staff to be fit tested to at least two different masks and the data to be recorded so that a Trust can identify and plan what the appropriate level of stock required for each mask used.

In the meantime, we will be identifying where trusts have significant levels of stock of a particular mask and will work with regions to understand the reasons for this and whether redistribution is appropriate.

Trusts will register FFP3 users and fit test results in ESR and review individual usage every quarter

  • This ensures all users and their fit testing evidence is freely available and action is taken to support individual resilience

To achieve and embed the outlined principles, it is essential that trusts ensure they have a data source of all existing FFP3 users detailing their fit testing outcomes and usage data.

Where used, the NHS Electronic Staff Record (ESR) now allows this data to be captured. Where a trust does not use ESR it is advised an FFP3 register is developed. This information should be shared and available to all staff and a central record stored by the trust.