Nottinghamshire GP practices have been asked to move back to universal face masking for both staff and patients in a letter sent by Wendy Walker, the interim deputy service lead of infection prevention control, and seen by GPonline.
The letter said that COVID-19 cases were increasing across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, resulting in increased admissions and increasing community COVID-19 outbreaks.
‘All practice staff should wear a type 11R face mask and patients should wear a face mask/covering and if they have respiratory symptoms or confirmed infection must be provided with a type 11R face mask,’ the letter said.
Practices were also instructed to continue with twice-weekly lateral flow tests for staff. Meanwhile, similar instructions on masking have been issued to GPs in the West Midlands, reports suggest.
Nottingham LMC said that practices were encountering resistance from patients due to confusing public policy - but insisted that face masks were necessary due to rising case numbers.
Mask directives are the latest attempt to ease the effects of the latest COVID-19 wave, thought to be driven by the Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.
The surge has caused severe pressures in primary care with LMCs in London, Cambridgeshire and Devon highlighting practices suffering a double whammy of rising staff absences and workload that ‘far exceeds winter pressures’.
The latest figures from the ONS showed that numbers of people testing positive for coronavirus are continuing to grow. Around one in 25 people in England are currently infected, with higher rates in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.