Visitor Information Update: Use of Face Masks in Hospital

National guidance issued by the Government in June 2020 outlined the need for all visitors and outpatients to wear face coverings when attending NHS premises. However, the standard of face covering used by visitors is not always appropriate for a hospital setting and therefore a supply of type IIR fluid resistant facemasks was made available for those visiting patients or having treatment.

In order to further ensure the safety of our patients, staff and visitors, it has been agreed that everyone entering Trust premises for any reason are now to wear a type IIR fluid resistant surgical facemask rather than their own personal face covering. All visitors will therefore be asked to remove their own mask on arrival, decontaminate their hands with alcohol hand rub, then don one of the type IIR facemasks supplied by the Trust.

Below are some useful FAQs to help you:

Will wearing a face mask change the existing visiting arrangements?

No. The latest visiting arrangements, including outpatient appointments, is available here.

Why are we asking visitors/patients visiting the site to wear face masks?

Outpatients or visitors coming to our hospitals will need to wear face masks to reduce the risk of transmitting coronavirus to others. Evidence has shown that those infected with COVID-19 can have very mild or no respiratory symptoms (asymptomatic) and potentially transmit the virus to others without being aware of it.

What is the difference between a face mask and a face covering?

All surgical face masks are medical devices provided by the hospital.

Face coverings can be cloth or homemade and should cover the nose and mouth of the wearer.

Will cloth or homemade face coverings be sufficient?

No, outpatients and visitors must wear surgical face masks. Face masks are medical devices provided by the hospital.

If I am wearing a mask, do I still have to social distance?

Yes. All visitors will be expected to comply with two metre social/physical distancing and the recommended hand hygiene measures. If you need to be examined or a face-to-face consultation has been arranged, the face mask must be worn.

What does this mean for shielding patients?

For those patients who are currently shielding, and who have been provided with a surgical face mask for their appointments, these should be worn. Face masks are medical devices provided by the hospital.

Does my face covering worn for religious beliefs/cultural practice qualify?

Outpatients and visitors must wear surgical face masks under a face covering worn as part of religious beliefs or cultural practice.

Do children need to wear a face mask?

Children and babies under three years should not wear a face mask, as per recently updated Department for Health and Social Care guidance. Children under the age of 11 do not need to wear a face mask.

What if you cannot wear a face mask?

For some, wearing of a face mask may be difficult, and therefore all other measures must be adhered to – i.e. social/physical distancing.

If you cannot wear a mask, and you haven’t already received information about this ahead of your visit, please make contact with your department for an individual risk assessment.

What about the impact of masks on communication for people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment?

The use of face masks due to the coronavirus pandemic may have an impact on patients who are deaf or have a hearing impairment as they can block the face of healthcare workers and prevent the ability to use visual cues such as facial expressions and lip reading.

Please contact your department ahead of your visit if you are deaf or have an hearing impairment to ensure a plan can be put in place to aid effective communication.

Our staff have received guidance on ensuring that effective communication can still be maintained.

What if I do not have a face mask?

All visitors who attend our hospitals will be issued a Trust approved mask from our main entrances.  You may be asked to remove your own face mask if it does not meet the requirements for a hospital setting.

 

Updated 26th February 2021