NHS patients, staff and visitors must continue to wear face coverings in healthcare settings

NHS Wirral has reminded the public that everyone accessing or visiting healthcare settings must continue to wear a face covering and follow social distancing rules.

From Thursday 27 January face coverings will no longer be mandatory in public places.  However, the UK Health Security Agency’s infection prevention control guidelines and hospital visiting guidance remains in place for all staff and patients over the winter period, in GP practices, dental practices, optometrists, pharmacies and other NHS settings, to ensure that everyone is protected.

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 and other personal protection equipment.

Dr Paula Cowan, local GP and Chair of NHS Wirral CCG, said, “We must continue to remain cautious to prevent and control transmission of the COVID-19 virus and other respiratory infections which are likely to remain present over the winter months.

“Continuing to follow IPC guidelines in all primary care settings including GP practices, dental practices, optometrists, pharmacies is vital to help protect both our patients and staff.

“All NHS sites across Wirral will be adhering to this guidance in an effort to reduce the risk of infection from COVID-19 and to keep ourselves, and those around us, safe.”

Dr Nikki Stevenson, Executive Medical Director and Deputy CEO at Wirral University Teaching Hospital, said, “Owing to the increase in prevalence of COVID-19 in the community, the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant and still relatively high numbers of COVID-19 patients in hospital, visiting restrictions at our hospitals will remain in place. Anyone entering our hospitals will be required to wear a fluid repellent surgical face mask and social distancing measures will still be in place. It is important that we protect our patients and staff from the spread of COVID-19. We would like to thank the community for their continued support with this.”

Dr Nick Cross Executive Medical Director at Wirral Community Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, said, “It is vital that everyone continues to play their part to help protect patients and service users in our communities – particularly those who may be more clinically vulnerable. The robust measures we have in place, both in our Trust and across the NHS, are vital to prevent the spread of any infection including COVID-19. This ensures that people can have confidence to access NHS services safely. We thank the public for their ongoing support and cooperation.”

Julie Webster, Director of Public Health, Wirral Council, said, “Very high levels of the COVID-19 virus continue to circulate in the community, so it is important to remember that we are not out of the woods yet. It is vital that infection control measures are followed by staff and visitors to health care settings.

“Locally, the NHS and social care are under considerable pressure – which we expect will be the case for some time to come. We must all keep playing our part to keep Wirral well.”

All primary care services in Wirral (GP practices, dental practices, pharmacies and optometry providers) are open, but access to services may be different in response to the continuing risks posed by high levels of the Covid-19 virus circulating in our communities. People can continue to access services as they have throughout the pandemic and are encouraged to come forward and seek help when they need any kind of medical care.

Wirral GP practices continue to offer convenient and flexible ways to receive healthcare. Face-to-face appointments are available to all patients where there is a clinical need. Practices are also offering online, video and telephone consultations.

Please look at the other options available for accessing NHS services if your condition is not urgent e.g. following self-care advice where you can from www.nhs.uk ; using your local pharmacy for expert help and advice for every-day conditions; using online services where you can to request repeat prescriptions via the NHS app or your practice patient online service; and seeking support and advice from NHS 111 online to direct you to the best service for your needs if you’re not sure what to do.

If you require urgent mental health crisis support, please call the CWP mental health crisis line on: 0800 145 6485. Open 24/7 and to all ages.

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