The Continued use of face masks, social distancing and remote Consulting

The Local Medical Committee has received queries from various constituents concerned about the imminent easing of restrictions on 19thJuly specifically with regard to whether practices may continue to require/insist the use of face masks within their premises as well as whether other current infection prevention and control guidance will change.

On Tuesday 13thJuly, Public Health England (PHE) clarified that its Infection Prevention & Control (IPC) guidance remains unchanged after 19thJuly, including:

  • The use of facemasks/ coverings by all outpatients (if tolerated) and visitors when entering a hospital, GP/dental surgery or other care settings
  • Physical distancing of 2 metres remains in place as standard practice in all health and care settings, unless providing clinical or personal care and wearing appropriate PPE
  • Where possible and clinically appropriate remote consultations rather than face-to-face should be offered to patients/individuals

The Government has also clarified that the rules on face masks will be different in health and care settings compared to public places. Furthermore, the BMA has called for the continued use of face masks in healthcare settings, with 91% of 2,500 doctors surveyed believing they should remain in place.

Where a patient is unable to tolerate a face mask, or refuses to wear one, it is up to the practice to determine how best to safely deliver care to them in a manner which does not pose a risk to other patients or to staff.

As independent contractor businesses, it is up to practices to determine their own policies with regard to preventing the spread of Covid-19 within their premises, for the safety of staff and patients. The LMC reassures practices that there is no reason, either contractual or otherwise, for practices to change their policies simply because of the broader relaxation to public restrictions being introduced on 19thJuly.

If any practices have concerns or require support they are encouraged to contact the LMC at assistance@bbolmc.co.uk