Changes to our Covid secure environment guidance – Monday 27 June 2022

Masks to be worn in all patient-facing areas

With Covid-19 cases rising in the local community and in our hospitals, we are reinstating the requirement to wear face masks in all patient-facing areas with immediate effect.

We are taking this step to reduce further spread of Covid and keep patients and staff safe.

We will continue to keep our Covid Secure guidance under regular review.


Reminder of previous Covid secure guidance updates

  • The social distancing arrangements we had in place for the last two years are no longer required (the exception is in clinical areas when caring for patients with confirmed or suspected respiratory illness).
  • Face-to-face meetings on-site are allowed, however, we ask that you first consider whether it would be more appropriate or easier to hold a meeting virtually.
  • Face-to-face training on-site is allowed.
  • On-site events such as conferences, graduations, drop-ins, ceremonies, etc. can be held.
  • The local Covid secure environment health and safety risk assessment is no longer required. However, COSHH risk assessments should be carried out in areas such as laboratories that handle or process respiratory viruses.
  • The hybrid approach to flexible, digital and home working that has been implemented during the pandemic requires some further consideration. In the short term, an individual’s and team’s approach should be discussed between the employee, team and line manager and retained where beneficial to the groups involved. We will issue further guidance as soon as possible.

If you have any questions please email

Guidance on ventilation

Natural ventilation
Maximising natural ventilation should be taken at every opportunity but only where safe to do so and where it does not compromise patient safety, security and/or fire arrangements.

Ways in which to maximise natural ventilation include:

  • Opening accessible windows and propping open doors (that are not fire doors), even for a short period of time (considering cold weather). This approach does not apply in areas which have existing air changing infrastructure such as operating theatres, critical care areas, endoscopy, D10 and C10.
  • Airing (purging) rooms on a frequent basis by opening all doors (not fire doors) and windows fully to maximise the ventilation in a room. It may be better to do this when the room is unoccupied or between uses.
  • It is important not to close windows or doors completely when people are using or occupying a naturally ventilated area. This can result in very low levels of ventilation.
  • In patient areas, windows can be opened however, please ensure that the window restrictors are in place and functioning correctly. Any defects should be reported to the Estates Helpdesk on 216696

Mechanical ventilation (including air conditioning)

  • In many areas mechanical ventilation is installed which provides fresh, heated (and in some areas cooled) air to rooms and extracts stale air. These can be identified by the presence of grilles/diffusers fitted to ceilings.
  • Air conditioning units and other recirculation systems can remain in operation.
  • It is not energy efficient to keep windows and doors open whilst running an air con unit, but where you need to increase the rate or supplement it with natural ventilation then this is permitted for the purposes of safety.
  • Use of portable fans should adhere to the Trust’s Use of portable fans procedure available on Merlin.
  • Local air cleaning and filtration units can be used to reduce airborne transmission where it isn’t possible to maintain adequate ventilation but this is generally restricted to areas carrying out AGPs and must be approved by IPC team before installation