New guidance on wearing masks in our hospitals

Published: Posted on:

Mask graphic

Throughout the pandemic, our first priority has been to keep our colleagues and our patients safe. The widespread use of fluid repellent surgical masks (FRSM) has been a key element of that.

In recent weeks, we have relaxed mask wearing in non-clinical areas. Now, following new national guidance, our Clinical Advisory Group (CAG) has agreed a number of changes that will be introduced on Monday 13 June.

What is changing:

  • Masks are no longer required in non-clinical areas, even when moving around
  • Masks are no longer required in “green” or non-Covid clinical areas, except
    • Areas where we care for immunocompromised patients (Haematology/ oncology, renal dialysis, kidney disease, critical care)
    • Areas where we care for patients who have not been triaged (Emergency Departments, Paediatric Emergency Departments, same day emergency care units, Urgent Treatment Centres)

What is staying the same:

  • Masks will continue to be available in all areas for everyone who needs or wants them. We encourage people to continue to use masks if they would like to and for those who choose not to, to be respectful of that decision.
  • We will continue to test patients with a PCR on admission and Lateral Flow on days three and five if they remain in hospital.
  • We encourage patients and visitors to make sensible decisions and always wear a mask if they aren’t sure.

What does this mean for inpatients?

Inpatients in most green areas do not need to wear a mask. In areas where we care for patients with Covid or immunosuppressed patients, masks are still required providing they don’t interfere with treatment, e.g. oxygen masks. In areas where patients are un-triaged, patients will be required to wear a mask, including in our Emergency Departments, Urgent Treatment Centres and Same Day Emergency Care Units.

What does this mean for outpatients?

People coming in for outpatient appointments and the people accompanying them don’t need to wear a mask. Outpatients who are acutely unwell or have any symptoms of Covid should not come to hospital.

What does this mean for visitors?

Visitors in most green areas do not need to wear a mask. In areas where we care for immunosuppressed patients, visitors will be asked to wear a mask. Visitors should not come to the hospital if they are unwell themselves, particularly if they have Covid or other respiratory virus symptoms.

On some occasions, colleagues may ask visitors to wear a mask due to local issues, including immunosuppressed patients, new Covid infections or particular vulnerabilities in the area.