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. This guidance was withdrawn on 16 May 2023.

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This guidance was withdrawn on 16 May 2023.

From this date, healthcare settings should follow the infection prevention and control guidance within NHSScotland National infection prevention and control manual.

Receptionists working in outpatient departments in acute hospitals or in health centre/doctors surgeries

Receptionists are also strongly recommended to a wear a face mask when not seated at their desk throughout their shift.

If you work in an office/reception, or other non-clinical area where there are no patients, it is strongly recommended that you wear a face mask when not seated whilst at work, except in a limited number of circumstances, such as when working alone in a closed office. Control measures continue to be essential, i.e. good ventilation, easy access to hand washing and/or hand sanitising facilities and regular cleaning of the area.

Wearing an face mask or face covering when you have a medical condition, which makes it difficult for you to wear one

Discussions with your line manager should take place to ensure that you have the support you need and that you are confident that you are appropriately protected. You will not be forced to wear a face mask/covering.

Managing issues with glasses steam up when wearing a face mask

The nose strip on the FRSM has been changed to improve the fit around the nose. This will help minimise the risk of your glasses steaming up. You may also wish to change your face mask more frequently. If this is not the case, please speak to your line manager or occupational health team.

Use of a personal face covering at work

This will be a decision for your employer and will depend on your role. Those involved in direct patient care should wear a face mask throughout their shift as noted above. Some NHS Boards may put in place a local policy that staff should wear a face mask rather than a face covering. It should be noted that face coverings are not appropriate for clinical care areas. It may also be difficult for uniformed staff to safely store, launder and easily access their own face coverings for use whilst on duty and it may not be appropriate to wear the same face covering that you wear on public transport. 

Wearing a face covering when traveling on public transport to work

Members of the public are encouraged to continue to wear a face covering when using public transport.

Accessing face masks within the workplace

A local decision will be made by health boards regarding how staff access face masks. NHS boards may choose to make face masks available at the entrance to all wards and departments and at additional PPE stations provided throughout the sites. 

Wearing a face mask when face fit testing

All testers should wear a FRSM when carrying out face fit testing.

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