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Face coverings to be worn in primary care settings

If you are invited for a face-to-face appointment by a clinician or health professional in primary care, please bring a face covering (mask/scarf) with you.

This is the message from NHS commissioners to those accessing primary care services in Slough, Windsor, Ascot, Maidenhead, Surrey Heath and North East Hants and Farnham.

Although GPs, Practice Nurses and other primary care clinicians have massively increased their use of technology (online, phone and video consultations) to ‘see’ patients while complying with the necessary social distancing restrictions which remain in place, there may be times when a clinician deems it appropriate for someone to be seen face-to-face. In this instance, you are now advised to bring along a face covering.

The news follows last month’s announcement that all visitors and outpatients visiting hospitals must wear face coverings to reduce the risk of transmission in hospitals (nosocomial transmission). Staff in hospitals across England must also wear face masks.

Sarah Bellars, Executive Director of Quality and Nursing and Director of Infection, Prevention and Control (DIPC) for the Frimley Collaborative, said: “We can all play a role in continuing to reduce the spread of coronavirus and keeping our hospitals and primary care settings safe.

“If you are coming to hospital as a visitor or for planned outpatient care, it is important that you continue to wear a face covering at all times. This is for your safety and the safety of other patients and staff.

She added: “We’d also be grateful if you could wear a mask or face covering if invited for a face-to-face appointment with a GP or other primary care health care professional.

“Face coverings can be cloth and/or homemade, and advice on how to wear and make one can be found on the government website. Face coverings worn as part of religious beliefs or cultural practice are also acceptable, providing they are not loose and cover the mouth and nose.”

Please see this short film which shows how to safely wear a face covering.

However, there are some exemptions to wearing a face covering. You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. This includes:

  • young children under the age of 11
  • not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
  • if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
  • to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
  • to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
  • to eat or drink, but only if you need to
  • to take medication
  • if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering

For more information on exemptions, click here.

For info on how to access health services during Covid-19, click here.

Frimley Health and Care