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Coronavirus (COVID-19): extended use of face masks and face coverings in hospitals, primary care and wider community healthcare

Guidance for staff within acute hospitals, community hospitals, primary care and wider community healthcare, together with advice for visitors, including those attending for an appointment.

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Guidance for staff on how to support visitors (including children aged 5 and over)

Any individual visiting or attending an acute adult hospital (including mental health, maternity, neonatal and paediatrics), community hospitals, primary care premises (GP practices, dentists, opticians and pharmacies) are strongly recommended to continue to wear a face covering.

Where visitors decline to wear face coverings, clinicians/ community healthcare managers should apply judgement and consider if other IPC measures, such as hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and ventilation are sufficient depending on the patient/resident/client’s condition and the care pathway.

Steps should be taken to communicate in an accessible way to visitors the need to continue wearing a face covering, unless exempt. The hospital or primary care service should provide visitors with a face mask where required.

In order to protect patients and staff in high risk settings, long stay and/or overnight visitors, such as birthing partners, parents of children who are in long stay wards or appropriate adults or families of patients who have learning disabilities, and who are required to stay in hospital with the patient for a prolonged period of time, are strongly recommended to wear FRSMs, (or face covering if a FRSM cannot be tolerated, unless they have an existing medical condition which prevents them from wearing a face covering). This will provide clarity for any long stay and/or overnight visitors who are required to stay in hospital with patient and will align with the guidance on patient and staff wearing of FRSMs. 

Supply of face masks

We have taken account of the need to make sure there is sufficient supply of FRSMs as staff and members of the public will be asked to continue to wear a FRSM while in healthcare settings. NSS has confirmed they have increased FRSM supplies.

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