The use of face coverings when coming to hospital at George Eliot Hospital
People infected with COVID-19 can have very mild or no respiratory symptoms (asymptomatic) and can transmit the virus to others without being aware of it.
In line with recent recommendations from the World Health Organisation, we introduced measures at George Eliot Hospital to keep visitors, patients, and staff safe.
You will need to wear a face covering when you come to hospital as a visitor or outpatient. Inpatients will also be asked to wear a face covering where possible.
Further information will be available below.
Face Mask FAQs
Who do the recommendations apply to?
The recommendations apply to everyone working or visiting in a hospital setting.
The use of face coverings applies to all members of the public when in hospital, including those visiting patients or attending outpatient appointments.
What is the difference between a face mask and a face covering?
All surgical face masks are classified as either Type I, IR, II, IIR, and are medical devices provided by the hospital.
Face coverings can be cloth or homemade and should cover the nose and mouth of the wearer.
Why are we asking visitors/patients visiting the site to wear face coverings?
Outpatients or visitors coming to the hospital will need to wear face coverings 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
Outpatients should be advised of the need to bring a face covering ahead of coming to hospital for planned and outpatient care (outpatient appointments etc); for example in appointment setting calls and confirmation letters.
What happens if an outpatient/visitor does not have a face covering when they come to the hospital?
If an outpatient or visitor does not have a face covering when they come to hospital, one should be provided by staff on arrival.
Local implementation plans should identify how this will be managed.
How do we communicate this new rule to visitors/outpatients?
The need for visitors/outpatients to wear a face covering when visiting the hospital site should be communicated through appointment letters, social media, local news stations/papers and through signage displayed at entrances to the site throughout wards and departments.
What about cloth/homemade/donated face masks?
Outpatient and visitor face coverings can be cloth and/or homemade (www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-covering) All visitors will be expected to comply with two -metre social/physical distancing and the recommended hand hygiene measures.
Where applicable, visitors to high risk COVID-19 areas of the hospital or visitors of patients with confirmed COVID-19 must wear appropriate PPE as per the current IPC guidance https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-infection-prevention-and-control
Does my face covering worn for religious beliefs/cultural practice qualify?
Face coverings worn as part of religious beliefs or cultural practice are acceptable, providing they are not loose and cover the mouth and nose.
What if an outpatient/visitor is unable to wear a face covering?
For some, wearing of a face covering may be difficult, and therefore all other measures must also be considered and introduced e.g. social/physical distancing, timed appointments; being seen immediately and not kept in waiting rooms. Individual risk assessments should be undertaken where required; for example, patients with mental health and learning disabilities. Such risk assessments will be documented by staff.
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.
The Government's PPE procurement team has sourced an initially small number of clear surgical face masks to support communication with patients who may be deaf or hearing impaired. They are working with regions to identify where those are best distributed.