Trusts have been told to start transitioning back towards prepandemic policies.
Healthcare providers in England have been told to relax their rules on universal mask-wearing.
A letter from NHS England & Improvement (NHSEI) tells NHS organisations to review their “universal” mask-wearing rules limiting them to just high-risk areas or outbreaks.
According to the document, the changes below have been recommended, but the final decision will fall to individual organisations.
Those working in higher risk areas, such as emergency departments, primary care, or on a respiratory or Covid-19 pathway, should continue to use facemasks routinely.
In settings where patients are immunocompromised, such as in oncology and haematology departments, the universal use of masks should be “considered” depending on risk assessments.
In all other clinical care areas, universal masking should be applied when there is a known or suspected outbreak of Covid-19.
In non-clinical areas, staff will no longer be required to use facemasks.
Inpatients with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 or respiratory symptoms should be provided with a facemask on admission. These should be worn in multi-bedded bays, communal areas or during transfers but are not required in side rooms.
Where patients are at high risk of infection due to immunosuppression, patients may be encouraged to wear a facemask.
All other inpatients are not required to wear a facemask unless this is a personal preference.
Most visitors and individuals accompanying patients to outpatient appointments will not routinely be required to wear facemasks.
Those visiting areas with immunocompromised patients, such as in oncology and haematology departments, may be asked to wear a facemask.
The letter adds that any infection control measure above and beyond those set out in national guidance is “a matter for local discretion” but are instructed to start “transitioning back towards their own prepandemic policies” on visiting and outpatient appointments.