Advice for GP Surgeries Regarding Patients and Facemasks
Publication date: August 2020
The Government website advises that all patients over the age of 11 years old wear face coverings in NHS settings, including community care settings, such as GP surgeries and hospitals. Face coverings can consist of a range of options, including cloth masks, scarves, face shields, or surgical masks and must cover the nose and mouth.
GP surgeries must protect all patients who attend the practice. As an employer, the practice has a duty of care to staff. Humberside LMC encourages practices to require patients to wear face coverings whenever they enter the practice premises. If a patient refuses to do so, despite being offered one and having the reasons explained to them, the LMC will support practices who offer non-face to face care until the patient complies.
There are very few valid medical reasons for not wearing a face covering; patients in whom there is a genuine exemption can be identified by the practice and managed accordingly. Please contact the LMC if you have any questions or concerns regarding this issue.
The BMA has issued the following statement regarding face coverings:
"The BMA believes that the government must do more to protect healthcare workers in community settings, including GP surgeries, and require those entering a healthcare facility to wear a face covering, as is the case for shops and other indoor settings.
It is for practices to decide how to deliver services to their patients. It is also a practice’s responsibility for them to protect their staff and patients, many of whom may be vulnerable to the most severe effects of Covid-19, from unnecessary risk. Therefore, if a patient refuses to wear a face covering inside a practice, without good reason, the practice can choose to provide services to that patient by means other than face-to-face consultation within the practice.
Practices should inform patients, in advance of their attendance, that a face covering will be required to protect other patients, clinicians and other staff who they will inevitably come into proximity with inside the building. If a patient has a legitimate reason for not wearing a face covering the practice will need to consider this on an individual basis."