The use of face coverings when coming to hospital at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
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, new measures are being introduced at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust to keep visitors, patients, and staff safe.
From Monday, 15th June 2020 you will need to wear a face covering when you come to hospital as a visitor or outpatient.
We can all play a role in reducing the spread of coronavirus and keeping our hospitals safe. If you are coming to hospital as a visitor or for planned outpatient care, it is important that you wear a face covering at all times. This is for your safety and the safety of other patients and staff.
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.
We are asking that you plan in advance and bring a face covering with you whenever possible, but if you do not have one available when you come to hospital, please see a member of staff on arrival and they will provide you with one.
If you are currently shielding and have been provided with a surgical face mask for your appointments, please continue to use this. If you have not been provided with a surgical face mask, you should wear a face covering.
For some people, wearing a face covering may be difficult due to physical or mental health conditions. In these instances, other measures will be considered on a case by case basis, for example timed appointments and being seen immediately on arrival.
If you are a deaf or hearing impaired, our staff have a range of communication options to ensure that they can communicate effectively with you. This might include the use of clear masks where possible, as well as visual aids such as writing things down, speech to text apps and sign language.
All visitors will be expected to comply with existing social distancing and hand hygiene measures in addition to the face coverings while in the hospital setting.
Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to support patients and visitors:
Why are we asking visitors/patients visiting the site to wear face coverings?
Patients and visitors coming to general practice services in Lancashire and South Cumbria 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.
Patients and visitors are advised to bring a face covering ahead of coming to appointments in general practice.
The use of face coverings in GP practices is a local decision to help protect public and staff and is not national PHE guidance.
What happens if a patient/visitor does not have a face covering when they come to a GP surgery?
If a patient or visitor does not have a face covering, a mask will be provided on arrival.
How do we communicate this new rule to patients and visitors?
The need for patients and visitors to wear a face covering when visiting general practice should be communicated through appointment letters / texts / emails, social media, local news stations/papers and through signage displayed at entrances to premises and throughout patient areas.
Staff will use any opportunity to inform patients of the rationale for face coverings.
What does this mean for shielding patients?
For those patients who are currently shielding, and who have been provided with a surgical face mask for their appointments, these should be worn. Where not already provided, patients should wear a face covering.
What about cloth/homemade/donated face masks?
Patient 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 social/physical distancing and the recommended hand hygiene measures.
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.
Where do I go for more information?
If you have further questions regarding the changes we have made across primary and community services in Lancashire and South Cumbria visit www.healthierlsc.co.uk/covid.