Face mask wearing – FAQs for staff

  • Why are we advising the use of face masks now?
    During the pandemic, it has been shown that hospitals are potential hotspots of Covid-19 transmission. Government advice is changing to recommend medical grade face mask use in non-clinical areas as well as in clinical areas to reduce the spread of Covid-19 within the hospitals to make them safer places for our patients and staff.
  • Can I wear my reusable face mask in the Trust?
    No, the Government guidance recommends that all staff wear a medical grade face mask whilst in the Trust.
  • I have already had Covid-19, do I still need to wear a mask?
    Yes. There is no firm evidence that having had Covid-19 means that you are immune. You may potentially contract the virus again and spread it. It is also an important signal to colleagues and our patients and visitors that we are taking infection measures seriously across the Trust.
  • When do I need to wear a face mask?
    Face masks should be worn at all times when on Trust premises apart from when you are eating food or drinking. If you are in an office on your own in a non-clinical environment, a mask does not need to be worn however, if you are in an office on your own in a clinical environment, a mask should be worn at all times (apart from when eating and drinking).
  • Do I have to wear a mask whilst I am outside on the hospital site?
    Masks do not generally need to be worn when you are outside as long as you can maintain the 2 metres social distancing rule. Please follow government advice on this (e.g. need for face coverings/masks on public transport).
  • This is going to use up a lot of masks, do we have a reliable supply so that we do not run out of masks for clinical work?
    The number of masks has been modelled and the hospital is confident that it has secured sufficient masks for both clinical and non-clinical staff.
  • Where can I get a mask?
    You should put on a mask on entry to the hospital. A member of the security team will be at each entrance with a supply of masks. Your usual area of work will have a supply of masks to meet your on-going needs during your time at work.
  • When do I change the mask?
    • Change the mask as you exit a clinical area.
    • Change if it gets wet, soiled, or damaged.
    • During your lunch-break.
    • You should remove your mask on exit from the hospital site.
  • What do I do if I need to eat or drink?
    Eat and drink as required, maintain social distancing while you eat.
    During you scheduled breaks/mealtimes:

    • Wash/alcohol gel your hands.
    • Remove your mask holding it by the ear loops and taking care to avoid touching the front or back of it, and dispose in the designated bins.
    • Wash/alcohol gel your hands.
    • Eat / drink.
    • Wash/alcohol gel your hands.
    • Put a new face mask back on avoiding touching the front of it.
    • It is acceptable to take a short drink by removing the mask taking care to only touch the ear loops and avoiding touching the front of the mask or getting it wet. Do not place the face mask on dining tables or other surfaces or lower the mask under the chin as this risks contamination. If you are unable to keep your mask clean, please dispose and use a new one.
  • Do I need to change my mask when I enter a clinical area?
    No, you should use the same mask acquired at the hospital entrance or the clean mask you put on as you left the last clinical area you visited until it needs to be changed (see above) or you leave the clinical area.
    Hand hygiene must be performed prior to entering the clinical area and appropriate PPE worn as per local instructions.
  • Do I need to change a mask when leaving a green clinical area?
    Yes – you will need to change your mask on leaving any clinical area.
  • If we are wearing masks, do we still need to socially distance?
    Yes – masks are only one part of the strategy to prevent the spread of Covid-19, social distancing and hand hygiene must continue to be practised in addition.
  • Do I need to wear a mask if I’m nowhere near a patient?
    Yes – you can acquire Covid-19 from colleagues.
  • How many masks are we allowed to use per day?
    Although we have a good supply of masks in the Trust, it is important not to waste masks unnecessarily. We would expect most non-clinical staff to need 3 or 4 masks per day. If you do not need to visit areas where you will be required to change your mask, please avoid doing so.
  • Do I need to wear a mask in the corridors?
  • Do I need to wear a mask on the concourse?
  • What about if I don’t want to wear a face mask?
    You are strongly advised to wear a mask to help prevent spread of Covid-19 within the hospital, unless you have a medical reason not to do so, you should wear a mask.
    Please discuss any problems you have with complying with the mask policy with your line manager in the first instance who may refer you to occupational health as appropriate.
  • What should I do if I have a skin reaction to wearing a mask?
    In the unlikely event that this should occur please remove the mask and report it to your line manager, complete a QSIS form and call occupational health (01223 216767) – we have a number of different mask brands in the Trust and you may be offered a different brand if you react to one type.
  • Am I allowed a beard or moustache?
    If your facial hair means that the surgical mask does not fit flat against your face, this will reduce its efficacy. We would recommend that if this is the case you consider shaving to allow a better facial fit.
  • If there is a patient who is positive on the ward that I am working on will I need a FFP3 mask?
    No. Currently, FFP3 masks are just for the Red wards where there is a high number of positive patients. The positive patient should move promptly to a red ward.
  • If I am working on a red ward can I continue working if I have not yet been fit tested ?
    Yes, you can continue to work. However, if a patient requires specialing, an AGP,  or prolonged close care then it would be prudent for a member of staff who is fit tested to care for these patients.