21 September 2020

Dear Partner,

Updated guidance on the use of face masks by Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust

Following recent updated Public Health England (PHE) COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control guidance and advice from NHS England & Improvement’s Infection, Prevention and Control Team, our Trust will be implementing new measures on the use of face masks by all our staff. This will apply across any setting at which they are based.

The health and wellbeing of patients and staff is the top priority of the NHS response to the coronavirus pandemic, and with an increasing rate of cases locally and nationally, we must do everything we can to keep everybody safe. Evidence has shown that people infected with COVID-19 can have very mild or no respiratory symptoms (asymptomatic) and can transmit the virus to others without being aware of it, so it is important that we take immediate steps to stop the spread of coronavirus by asymptomatic individuals in any setting where our staff work (nosocomial transmission).

Staff measures

The guidance advises that all staff, both clinical and non-clinical (administration, on-site contractors, porters, volunteers, cleaning, catering), must wear a type I or type II face mask (or type IIR if more available) at all times when not otherwise required to use personal protective equipment (PPE).

Supplies of facemasks and alcohol hand rub will be made available to staff to ensure appropriate supplies are accessible at all times, including for any members of your staff who are working at one of our sites.

Infection prevention and control (IPC) is a priority at LPT, and all staff will be expected to continue to follow other IPC procedures such as social distancing, good hand and respiratory hygiene, declaring all COVID-like symptoms, and cleaning shared equipment and working areas as a matter of course.

If a member of our staff is working at a site not owned by LPT, for example schools and other community and social care settings, or shared office buildings, they will be wearing a face mask.

Patient measures

There will be no change to our current policy that visitors and patients coming to hospital for planned and outpatient care will need to wear face coverings to further reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus to other patients and staff.

Face coverings can be made of cloth and be reusable in line with government guidance on the use of face coverings for public transport. Face coverings worn as part of religious beliefs or cultural practice are also acceptable, providing they are not loose and cover the mouth and nose.

People who do not bring a face covering with them when attending our hospital sites will be provided with one by our staff. Some patients who are currently shielding have also been provided with a surgical facemask for necessary in-person appointments.

We understand that wearing a face covering may be difficult for some people due to physical or mental health conditions. In these instances, other measures are considered on a case by case basis, for example timed appointments and being seen immediately on arrival.

We believe that these measures for staff and patients will help to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in LPT. Patient and staff safety continues to be our number one priority.

We appreciate how important it is to keep you informed of these changes. I would be happy to arrange a call with you to discuss further if you should so wish.

Kind regards

Angela Hillery

Chief executive, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust