At least 19 NHS workers are known to have died during the coronavirus outbreak, and the government has been criticised for failing to provide enough protection.
A spokesman for RCN stated that “for nursing staff, this will go against every instinct. But their safety must not be compromised”.
The union announced it would provide legal assistance to those making what it acknowledged was an “enormously difficult decision”.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said health workers should not be put in such a position.
He told Sky News, “It is absolutely right that no medical professional should be placed in a position where they have to make that choice", adding, “That for me is self-evident. That is why we are making sure we get the equipment to the front line.”
Sharma stated that “in a normal circumstance, you would have us providing PPE to about 233 hospital trusts across the country. We are now talking about supplying 58,000 NHS and social care settings".
“That is a huge increase and on top of that, there is huge global demand for PPE and that does put a squeeze on supply,” the business secretary continued.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has praised the NHS staff at St Thomas’ Hospital who have cared for him during his time in hospital. In his first statement since leaving intensive care, the prime minister said, “I can’t thank them enough, I owe them my life”.
A No 10 spokeswoman stated on Saturday that “the prime minister continues to make very good progress”.