Mask wearing and social isolation will continue in health and care settings in England further easing Covid-19 bans elsewhere to protect staff and patients, the head nurse confirmed. in the country.
The move was welcomed by lead and health nurses who stressed that “it is important for staff to know they are safe”.
“It’s important that we do everything we can to reduce the risk of infection for those who work in our service and those who need our care.”
England is set to see almost all of the Covid-19 bans lifted from July 19, including the legal requirement to wear face masks.
However, it has now been confirmed that Public Health England’s infection prevention and control guidelines and hospital visit guidance will remain in place for all staff and visitors.
This means NHS staff, care staff and visitors to these services are expected to continue to follow social isolation rules and wear face masks beyond next Monday.
Earlier this week it was also announced that wearing a mask would continue to be mandatory on London’s transport services.
Meanwhile, the prime minister also urged people to continue to wear masks in crowds and closed spaces.
In Scotland, it was confirmed earlier this week that masks will remain mandatory nationwide for “a few hours”, while in Wales masks will continue to be required in certain settings, such as health and fitness settings. care and transport to the public.
The Northern Ireland government has yet to finalize plans on the future use of face masks.
Today, the chief nurses officer for England, Ruth May, has confirmed masks and social isolation measures to keep England’s overall health and care system “so that the most vulnerable people can continue to safely attend hospital, their GP surgery, pharmacy or other health care settings. for advice, care and treatment ”.
“It’s important for staff to know that they are protected and clear to the public that measures such as social isolation and wearing a mask are still needed.”
He stressed that “it is important for the public to continue their part when visiting the NHS and care settings to help protect our staff and patients, especially those most at risk of infections”.
It is also important that everyone helps to “control Covid by vaccinating and acting responsibly”, Ms May added.
“It’s important that in healthcare settings, we do everything we can to reduce the risk of infection for those who work in our service and those who need our care,” she said.
Commenting on the confirmation, Unison’s head of health, Sara Gorton, said: “Despite the slowdown in bans, NHS staff are under pressure to try to clean up waiting lists accumulated during the pandemic.
“At the same time, coronavirus cases are rising rapidly and many people remain vulnerable.”
He added: “It is important for staff to know that they will keep the public safe and clear that measures such as social isolation and wearing a mask are still needed to stop the spread in healthcare settings.”
Meanwhile, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “This confirmation is exactly what health leaders across the country need to hear as we move towards the final coronavirus ban lifted in England because it will prove their intention to continue to follow existing.infection control instructions.
“It is not too much to ask visitors or users of NHS services to continue to wear a mask and respect social isolation measures if they can keep themselves and those around them safe from the horrible sick. “
Jude Diggins, interim director of care, policy and public affairs at the Royal College of Nursing, said the increase in Covid-19 cases across the country “shows we have a way to go before we run out of in the pandemic “.
He pointed out that infection prevention and control measures such as face masks, social isolation and hand washing “should continue to protect patients and care staff, thus helping to ensure that the NHS has the capacity to treat everyone who needs it if the pressure continues to increase ”.
Health minister Jo Churchill urged everyone to “do their part and think of the weaker ones” when visiting health and care facilities.
“We expect patients, visitors and NHS staff to continue to use face masks and maintain social distance in all health settings as we cautiously lift restrictions on Monday,” he said.
The news came as ministers in both England and Scotland were considering plans to drop their own isolation rules for nurses who have been vaccinated and health staff, first for the rest of the population, to help ease the pressure on workers amid the latest surge of Covid-19.