Statement: Updates to RCUK COVID-19 Guidance in April 2022

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, RCUK has remained consistent in its approach to guidance for managing patients with COVID-19 in cardiorespiratory arrest. The aim has always been to deliver high-quality treatment to patients whilst maintaining staff/rescuer safety. 

We continue to review and consider the emerging evidence around the mode of transmission and the emergence of highly contagious variants, and recognise the effect of the vaccination programme on the course of the pandemic. Alongside this, we have noted the stance taken by each of the four nations as they lift restrictions within society.  

Recently published evidence suggests that COVID-19 is predominantly transmitted via the aerosol route as opposed to direct contact and via fomites. With this in mind, we have amended our guidance for health care staff to prioritise protection against the aerosol route of transmission.

RCUK continues to follow our core principles for the management of cardiorespiratory arrest in those with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, and remains committed to balancing the delivery of treatment with staff/rescuer safety. This includes:

  • optimal delivery of time critical treatments
  • application of appropriate PPE with minimal delay to treatment 
  • staff/rescuer safety.

For healthcare staff

We continue to recommend the use of FFP3 masks or respirators during aerosol generating procedures associated with resuscitation when treating a patient with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. The donning of other aspects of AGP PPE should not lead to a delay in patient treatment. 

Clinicians will be used to the concept of individualised risk/ benefit assessments. In the context of resuscitation, we suggest consideration is given to the risks from the patient, virus, procedures undertaken, practitioner susceptibility and environment/setting.

For members of the general public

We continue to strongly promote that bystanders and family members provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation and public access defibrillation as these are critical to saving lives.

If there is a perceived risk of infection, rescuers can place a mask or cloth over the victim’s mouth and nose and attempt compression only CPR and early defibrillation until the ambulance (or advanced care team) arrives. Put hands together in the middle of the chest and push hard and fast.

For those concerned about the risks of COVID-19 and rescue breaths, our resuscitation resources for the general public can be accessed in the COVID-19 section of our website.

We will continue to regularly review the available evidence and our COVID-19 guidance and will update as and when the evidence suggest we should. 

Any updates will be shared widely with our stakeholders.

April 2022