First Practice Management
- Posted Friday July 16, 2021
GP Practices, Hospitals, and other health providers will still be able to require patients and visitors to wear masks unless they are exempt, after the NHS and Public Health England (PHE) said existing guidance on Covid infection control will still continue after the end of lockdown rules on 19 July.
On 15th July the NHS Chief Nursing Officer for England, Ruth May said: “Face coverings and social distancing measures will remain in place across healthcare settings so that the most vulnerable people can continue to safely attend hospital, their GP surgery, pharmacy or any other healthcare settings for advice, care and treatment.
“And it is important for the public to continue to play their part when visiting NHS and care settings to help protect our staff and patients, particularly those who may be more vulnerable to infections. As restrictions are lifted in many places on Monday everyone has a part to play in helping to control Covid by getting vaccinated and acting responsibly. It is vital that in healthcare settings, we do all we can to reduce the risk of infection for those working in our services and those who need our care.”
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Face coverings are a public health protection measure, not classified as personal protective equipment (PPE), and are therefore not covered by health and safety legislation.
Under the guidelines agreed by the four nations of the UK and put in place for the pandemic, it sets out the need for “use of facemasks/coverings by all outpatients (if tolerated) and visitors when entering a hospital, GP/dental surgery or other care settings”.
The guidance also recommends keeping the 2 metres social distancing measures as well as thorough hand hygiene. The Government said on Tuesday that rules for wearing masks in healthcare settings would be different from other public settings.
Public Health England’s Covid-19 strategic response director, Dr. Susan Hopkins said: “There is current IPC guidance in place in healthcare settings and both patient and staff safety must remain the highest priority. The guidance, which includes measures for both staff and visitors, covers appropriate use of face-covering and social distancing. The guidance is under constant review based on available and emerging evidence.”
Readers can download the following posters to display in your practice to keep your patients informed;