Massive change in face mask rules as drapes in hospitals are LOCKED

FACE MASK rules have been DECREASED in all hospitals and GP clinics as part of a major policy change.

Instead, individual hospitals are free to draft their own policies on whether or not face coverings must be worn.

Face mask rules have been scrapped in an amendment to policy rules in all hospitals and GPs


Face mask rules have been scrapped in an amendment to policy rules in all hospitals and GPsPhoto credit: Getty

In a letter to all local health authorities, NHS England highlighted the new infection control guidelines set by the UK health authority.

Patients visiting general practitioner offices or outpatient hospital appointments and people attending emergency rooms will no longer be required to wear masks “unless it is a personal preference,” the letter said.

But those with respiratory symptoms – like coughing – should wear a face mask or face covering “if tolerated”.

Patients hospitalized with or suspected of having Covid-19 should be fitted with a face mask upon admission to a ward or common area “if this can be tolerated and is deemed safe for the patient ‘ the letter reads, adding.

Some GP surgeries and health centers have already removed signs asking patients to wear masks when entering.

However, a number of hospitals have urged patients and staff to continue wearing masks and face coverings at their sites.

Covid-19 patients in single rooms usually do not have to wear a mask under supervision.

Hospital patients who do not have Covid will not be required to wear a face mask unless it is their “personal preference,” the letter adds.

However, they may be asked to do so in some high-risk areas such as cancer wards, blood disease treatment services, or elder care wards.

Health workers are advised to continue wearing masks in risk areas – but the rules should be “guided by a local assessment”.

Employees who may come into contact with someone with Covid-19 should also wear masks as part of their personal protective equipment (PPE).

This could include those in Covid wards, emergency departments and GP surgeries.

Wearing a universal mask by staff should be considered if there is a local outbreak of cases, the guide adds.

Employees are no longer required to wear masks in non-clinical areas such as staff rooms and offices.

The letter adds that any infection control measures beyond those set out in national guidance are “a matter of local judgement”.

It also suggests that most visitation rules should be restored to pre-pandemic guidelines.

Visitors may be asked to wear face masks in high-risk areas, but are not routinely asked to wear masks when accompanying patients to other areas of hospitals, “although they may be encouraged to do so following a local risk assessment,” the letter adds.


The letter, written by NHS England’s national medical director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, and Duncan Burton, the deputy chief nursing officer for England, suggests it could take time for the guidelines to be implemented.

However, hospitals are already issuing guidance to their local population.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals in Yorkshire has asked patients, visitors and staff to continue wearing masks.

Meanwhile, Bradford Teaching Hospitals have also asked visitors to continue covering their noses and mouths.

However, Ashford and St Peter’s hospitals in Surrey say visitors and those accompanying outpatients will not be required to wear masks.

And the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has also lifted the rules – with some exceptions.

This includes the high-risk areas of oncology and hematology in the inpatient and outpatient areas. Massive change in face mask rules as drapes in hospitals are LOCKED

Sarah Y. Kim

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