All patients attending GP surgeries across Sandwell and West Birmingham will be asked to wear face coverings from this week.
It is now compulsory to wear face coverings on public transport and in hospitals in England.
To protect patients and NHS staff, Sandwell and West Birmingham GP practices are to follow suit by urging patients to provide and wear their own face coverings in surgeries, as well as continuing to follow handwashing and social distancing guidelines. As per government guidance, exemptions apply to very young children, disabled patients and those with breathing difficulties.
Dr Ian Sykes, local GP and clinical chair of NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, said: “We know it is possible to pass on coronavirus when you don’t have any symptoms. Face-coverings help to protect those near you from the virus, as my mask protects you and your mask protects me. Face coverings are not a substitute for hand-washing or social distancing, but they are an additional measure in the fight against coronavirus, to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
“We feel this step is necessary to protect our patients and ensure we have a clear and consistent approach across Sandwell and West Birmingham. We encourage any patients with questions or concerns to get in touch with your local practice.”
Evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) supports face coverings as a means of reducing coronavirus transmission through droplet spread, especially for those infected with coronavirus but not showing any symptoms.
The British Medical Association has also called for the extension of the wearing of face coverings to all ‘health, community and social care settings’
You can find out how to wear and make a low-cost face covering online: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-covering/how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-covering