Hospitals: Protective Clothing

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 16th July 2020.

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Photo of Daniel Poulter Daniel Poulter Conservative, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what advice he has received on the need for hospital staff and visitors to wear face masks at all times in to reduce the transmission of covid-19.

Photo of Daniel Poulter Daniel Poulter Conservative, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when he received advice on the need for hospital staff to wear face masks at all times to reduce the transmission of covid-19.

Photo of Lilian Greenwood Lilian Greenwood Chair, Finance Committee (Commons), Chair, Finance Committee (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Government's press release of 5 June 2020, Face masks and coverings to be worn by all NHS hospital staff and visitors, if he will issue guidance on if staff should remove face masks while conducting (a) video consultations and (b) telehealth appointments throughout hospital departments.

Photo of Lilian Greenwood Lilian Greenwood Chair, Finance Committee (Commons), Chair, Finance Committee (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Government press release dated 5 June 2020, Face masks and coverings to be worn by all NHS hospital staff and visitors, if he will issue guidance on whether staff will be permitted to conduct their appointment without a face mask at a 2 metre distance if a patient identifies themselves as requiring lip reading.

Photo of Mary Foy Mary Foy Labour, City of Durham

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the implications for the Government's policy on the use of face masks of the Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19: interim guidance published by the WHO on 5 June 2020, on the of disadvantages of those masks for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Photo of Mary Foy Mary Foy Labour, City of Durham

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance his Department has issued to (a) the NHS and (b) social care providers on meeting the requirements of the Accessible Information Standard for patients with (i) hearing loss and (ii) who face additional communication barriers due to the use of face masks during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Holding answer received on 15 June 2020

The recommendations for the use of face masks by hospital staff and face coverings for hospital visitors have been made for to help prevent the spread of infection. 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, so it is important we take steps to reduce the risk of transmission from staff who may be asymptomatic.

Staff working alone in a private workspace will not be expected to wear a mask but when they leave the private work area to move through the hospital building, e.g. on an errand, or for meal breaks, they should put on a surgical face mask as outlined in the guidance.

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 must be documented.

The use of face masks due to the COVID-19 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 personal protective equipment procurement team has sourced 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.

Where clear masks are not possible, communication tactics should be considered to support patients and visitors who are deaf or have a hearing impairment.

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