15 July 2021
Patients, staff and visitors must continue to wear face coverings in all AWP settings
England's Chief Nurse has today reminded the public that
everyone accessing or visiting healthcare settings, including AWP
sites, must continue to wear a face covering and follow social
Covid restrictions will end in many settings in England from
However, Public Health England's infection prevention control
guidelines and hospital visiting guidance are set to remain in
place for all staff and visitors.
That means NHS visitor guidance will stay in place across all
health services including hospitals, GP practices, dental
practices, optometrists and pharmacies to ensure patients and staff
are protected. This includes all AWP premises.
Staff, patients and visitors will also be expected to continue
to follow social distancing rules when visiting any care setting as
well as using face coverings, masks and other personal protection
AWP will continue to support staff in ensuring that the guidance
is followed in all Trust settings.
Chief Nursing Officer for England, Ruth May
said: "Face coverings and social distancing measures
will remain in place across healthcare settings so that the most
vulnerable people can continue to safely attend hospital, their GP
surgery, pharmacy or any other healthcare settings for advice, care
"And it is important for the public to continue to play their
part when visiting NHS and care settings to help protect our staff
and patients, particularly those who may be more vulnerable to
"As restrictions are lifted in many places on Monday everyone
has a part to play in helping to control Covid by getting
vaccinated and acting responsibly.
"It is vital that in healthcare settings, we do all we can to
reduce the risk of infection for those working in our services and
those who need our care."
Health Minister Jo Churchill said: "Face
coverings have played an important role in healthcare settings,
helping protect vulnerable patients, staff and visitors by limiting
the spread of this deadly disease and this guidance remains in
"We expect patients, visitors and NHS staff to continue using
face coverings and maintain social distancing in all healthcare
settings as we cautiously lift restrictions on Monday.
"I urge everyone to play their part and think of those more
vulnerable than you when visiting your local hospital or GP
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Academy of
Medical Royal Colleges said: "It is absolutely right
that basic infection prevention and control measures stay in place
in healthcare settings. Simple steps such as wearing a face mask
and keeping a safe distance away from others are a minor
inconvenience but could have a profound positive impact when it
comes to protecting the most vulnerable and I strongly support the
chief nurse with this clear reminder."
Jude Diggins, Interim RCN Director of Nursing, Policy
and Public Affairs said: "The recent increase in the
number of COVID-19 cases shows that we have some way to go before
being free from the pandemic. The public understand the importance
of face masks, social distancing and vigilant handwashing in all
health and care settings. These must continue in order to protect
patients and nursing staff thus helping to ensure the NHS has the
capacity to treat everyone who needs it if pressures keep
Eddie Crouch, Chair of the British Dental Association
said: "These guidelines are in place to protect
patients and staff. When visiting a dentist face coverings, social
distancing and hand washing remain fundamentals not optional
extras. Wider changes that take place on Monday will have no impact
on how the public should approach accessing our services."
Thorrun Govind, Chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical
Society in England said: "Pharmacists and their teams
are working really hard to support patient care and the public can
do its bit to help keep people safe. While some pharmacies are in
retail environments, they're still a healthcare setting and have
been relied upon to support and protect the public throughout the
pandemic. I'd urge everyone entering a pharmacy or any healthcare
setting to wear and mask and maintain social distancing to reduce
the risk from COVID-19 to both patients and staff."
UNISON head of health Sara Gorton
said: "Although restrictions are easing, NHS staff
are under pressure trying to clear the long wait lists that have
built up during the pandemic. At the same time, Coronavirus
cases are rising rapidly and many people remain vulnerable. It's
vital that staff know they will be kept safe and the public are
clear that measures like social distancing and mask wearing will
still be needed to stop the spread in healthcare settings."
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS
Confederation, said: "This is exactly what health
leaders across the country needed to hear as we head towards the
final coronavirus restrictions lifting in England as it will
validate their intention to continue following the existing
infection control guidelines. It is not too much to ask of those
visiting or using NHS services to continue wearing a mask and
respecting social distancing measures if it can keep themselves and
those around them safe from this horrible disease."