Patients visiting GP should be required to wear masks, says BMA

Patients visiting GP surgeries should be required to wear face masks to help protect staff - matching rules to be adopted this month in hospitals, the BMA has warned.

Patients should wear masks when visiting GP, says BMA (Photo: Tempura/Getty Images)
Patients should wear masks when visiting GP, says BMA (Photo: Tempura/Getty Images)

The government announced on 5 June that all staff in hospitals would be required to wear surgical-grade masks from 15 June, with members of the public visiting hospitals also expected to wear face coverings ‘at all times’.

The advice followed evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) that face coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus by people who are not showing symptoms.

BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul has warned that rules on face coverings should also be adopted in GP practices to ensure consistency throughout healthcare settings.

Masks in primary care

The government must urgently clarify what type of covering members of the public would be required to wear, the BMA chair said. He called for ongoing concerns about ‘availability of medical masks in general practice’ to be tackled as ‘a matter of urgency’.

Dr Nagpaul said: ‘The newly announced face-covering measures in hospitals must also be extended to cover GP surgeries and other health, community and social care settings.

‘As this virus knows no boundaries, it is important that there is consistency around face coverings that applies throughout healthcare settings, reflective of the integrated healthcare system we have.’

‘While many GP practices have taken major steps to reduce face-to-face consultations, encouraging patients to wear a face covering when attending a practice will help further protect staff and patients.'

PPE advice

NHS staff are already advised to wear face masks in clinical areas within two metres of a patient, but the updated guidance will apply to staff in all areas of the hospital at all times.

Dr Nagpaul said he was extremely concerned about a reported lack of consultation between the government and NHS trusts about new face-covering measures.

Trust leaders have reported being left in the dark about the new measures, which present complex changes to ways of working. The BMA chair urged the government to be forthcoming with details of future plans in general practice.

Dr Nagpaul, himself a north London GP, added: ‘The government must ensure that there are sufficient supplies of medical masks across all healthcare settings and be very clear with the public about what type of covering they need, how they need to wear it and where they need to get this from.'

Last month a BMA survey found that over two thirds of GPs have had to rely on PPE that they have bought themselves or had donated during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The government insists that it has adequate stocks of masks to meet demand and continues to pursue contracts for additional stock.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

GMC defers revalidation for a further 9,000 doctors due to pandemic

GMC defers revalidation for a further 9,000 doctors due to pandemic

Around 9,000 doctors who are due to revalidate between March and July 2021 will have...

NHS England praises GPs after steep rise in general practice appointments

NHS England praises GPs after steep rise in general practice appointments

NHS England primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani has thanked GPs and their...

Half of GPs say patients harmed by delays to care during COVID-19 pandemic

Half of GPs say patients harmed by delays to care during COVID-19 pandemic

Nearly half of GPs say patients on their list have come to harm because of delays...

Viewpoint: Test and trace isn't working - could GPs do it better?

Viewpoint: Test and trace isn't working - could GPs do it better?

The outsourced test and trace system isn't working, says Dr Simon Hodes. It's time...

Doctors call for test and trace millions to be diverted to primary care and local NHS

Doctors call for test and trace millions to be diverted to primary care and local NHS

Doctors have urged the government to divert hundreds of millions of pounds from the...

Hundreds of GPs a month seek mental health support as COVID-19 pressure bites

Hundreds of GPs a month seek mental health support as COVID-19 pressure bites

More than 200 GPs a month are seeking mental health support as COVID-19 drives up...