As the Government makes it mandatory for all outpatients and hospital visitors to wear a face covering in hospitals in order to limit Covid-19 transmission, there are growing calls to extend this to primary care settings such as community pharmacies.
The Department of Health and Social Care announced on Friday June 5 that from June 15 it will be compulsory for all hospital staff in England to wear surgical masks, and for all visitors and outpatients to wear face coverings “at all times”.
“One of the things that we’ve learned is that those in hospital, those who are working in hospital are more likely to catch coronavirus whether they work in a clinical setting or not,” health secretary Matt Hancock said.
Commenting today on the new measures for hospitals, Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Sandra Gidley said: “The Government must extend the measures announced so far to pharmacy settings and work with the profession on how this will be implemented as part of the new normal.
“It’s vital that there is consistency in the use of face coverings across primary care as well as hospital settings to provide maximum protection from the virus and avoid confusion.
“Pharmacy teams are on the frontline seeing patients. Alongside PPE and social distancing, encouraging people to wear face coverings when visiting community pharmacies and general practice will help further protect staff and patients. The Government will need to explain what type of face covering is useful and how to wear it to best effect.
“Coronavirus is still a threat to our pharmacists, their teams and others on the frontline. It’s critical everything possible is done to protect them.”
A DHSC spokesperson told Pharmacy Network News: “We are advising the public to consider wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces where they may be more likely to come into contact with people they do not normally meet. This includes visiting a GP surgery or pharmacist.”
Pharmacists “should wear face masks when working in an area with possible or confirmed cases and if they are unable to maintain two metres social distance,” they added.