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NHS patients, staff and visitors must continue to wear face coverings in healthcare settings

Local GP and North East London Clinical Commissioning Group chair Dr Jagan John has emphasised the message from England’s chief nurse that everyone accessing or visiting healthcare settings must continue to wear a face covering and follow social distancing rules, even though Covid restrictions end in many settings in England from Monday.

Public Health England’s infection prevention control guidelines and hospital visiting guidance are set to remain in place for all staff and visitors. 

That means NHS visitor guidance will stay in place across all health services including hospitals, GP practices, dental practices, optometrists and pharmacies to ensure patients and staff are protected.

Staff, patients and visitors will also be expected to continue to follow social distancing rules when visiting any care setting as well as using face coverings, masks and other personal protection equipment. The NHS will continue to support staff in ensuring that the guidance is followed in all healthcare settings.

Chief Nursing Officer for England, Ruth May, said: “Face coverings and social distancing measures will remain in place across healthcare settings so that the most vulnerable people can continue to safely attend hospital, their GP surgery, pharmacy or any other healthcare settings for advice, care and treatment. “And it is important for the public to continue to play their part when visiting NHS and care settings to help protect our staff and patients, particularly those who may be more vulnerable to infections.  “As restrictions are lifted in many places on Monday everyone has a part to play in helping to control the Covid by getting vaccinated and acting responsibly. “It is vital that in healthcare settings, we do all we can to reduce the risk of infection for those working in our services and those who need our care.”

Dr Jagan John, Chair of NHS North East London Clinical Commissioning Group chair and a Barking GP, said: “Wearing a face covering and keeping a safe distance from others continue to play a vital role in protecting all our patients and staff. “As restrictions are cautiously lifted from Monday, it is essential that everyone continues to play their part in limiting the spread of infection – particularly with a number of critical care patients being treated for Covid-19 in our local hospitals. “This also highlights the need for anyone who has not already had a Covid-19 vaccination to come forward for theirs as soon as possible.”

Health Minister Jo Churchill said: “Face coverings have played an important role in healthcare settings, helping protect vulnerable patients, staff and visitors by limiting the spread of this deadly disease and this guidance remains in place. “We expect patients, visitors and NHS staff to continue using face coverings and maintain social distancing in all healthcare settings as we cautiously lift restrictions on Monday. “I urge everyone to play their part and think of those more vulnerable than you when visiting your local hospital or GP surgery.”

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said: “It is absolutely right that basic infection prevention and control measures stay in place in healthcare settings. Simple steps such as wearing a face mask and keeping a safe distance away from others are a minor inconvenience but could have a profound positive impact when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable and I strongly support the chief nurse with this clear reminder.”