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New face covering rules have left hospitals ‘confused and unprepared’ – BMA

All hospital visitors and outpatients in England will be required to wear a face-covering.

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The BMA said new face covering rules have left hospitals ‘confused and unprepared’ (Victoria Jones/PA)

The BMA said new face covering rules have left hospitals ‘confused and unprepared’ (Victoria Jones/PA)

The BMA said new face covering rules have left hospitals ‘confused and unprepared’ (Victoria Jones/PA)

As new face coverings rules come into effect, the British Medical Association (BMA) said some NHS services have been left “confused and unprepared”.

From Monday, all hospital visitors and outpatients, as well as everyone using public transport, will be required to wear a face-covering in England.

The Government has previously said that commuters who do not wear a face covering could be refused travel or fined up to £100 if they do not comply.

Hundreds of thousands of face coverings will be handed out free of charge to passengers at railway stations across the country over the coming days.

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New face covering rules have been introduced to bring England out of lockdown (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

New face covering rules have been introduced to bring England out of lockdown (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

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New face covering rules have been introduced to bring England out of lockdown (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

But the BMA has accused the Government of not properly planning the new measures in relation to hospitals.

The trade union deemed it inappropriate to provide surgical masks to patients and visitors who arrive without a face covering, especially given the high demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) on the frontline.

BMA council chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “It is clear that the Government has failed to properly plan for these changes which are now in effect and have left providers of NHS services confused and unprepared for how this will be implemented on the frontline.

“Furthermore, it is still unclear as to whether mandatory face coverings will extend to patients attending GP practices.”

Dr Nagpaul has called on ministers to provide adequate supplies of PPE to hospitals as the new face covering rules will “inevitably lead to an increased demand”.

He added: “With the supply of PPE to the NHS frontline having been a major issue throughout this pandemic, to place this burden on hospitals without providing additional resources is quite frankly unacceptable.”

The Government set out advice for people on how to make their own face coverings at home, using scarves or other textile materials.

The new measures will coincide with the reopening of all non-essential stores from Monday, but shop workers, including those serving food and drink, have not been told to wear a face covering and it is not compulsory for shoppers.

Meanwhile, Uber announced that it will make face coverings mandatory for drivers and passengers across the UK from Monday.

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