The use of face coverings when coming to Dartford and Gravesham NSH Trust

From Monday 15 June, all visitors and patients coming to the hospital will need to wear face coverings at all times when in the hospital setting to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus to other patients and staff. 

Face coverings are different to face masks in that they can be homemade, made of cloth, and be reusable. People infected with COVID-19 can have very mild or no respiratory symptoms (asymptomatic) and can transmit the virus to others without being aware of it.

What does this mean for me?

Visiting restrictions are still in place and we continue to limit all non-essential visits to the hospital wherever possible. Patients should only attend the hospital if they have a confirmed appointment, and will need to show current ID in order to access the building.

If you are coming to hospital as a visitor or for planned outpatient care, it is important that you wear a face covering at all times. This is for your safety and the safety of other patients and staff. Face coverings can be cloth and/or homemade, and advice on how to wear and make one can be found on the government website. Face coverings worn as part of religious beliefs or cultural practice are also acceptable, providing they are not loose and cover the mouth and nose.

We are asking that you plan in advance and bring a face covering with you whenever possible, but if you do not have one available when you come to hospital, please see a member of staff on arrival and we will provide you with one. 

If you are currently shielding and have been provided with a surgical face mask for your appointments, please continue to use this. If you have not been provided with a surgical face mask, you should wear a face covering.

For some people, wearing a face covering may be difficult due to physical or mental health conditions. In these instances, other measures will be considered on a case by case basis, for example timed appointments and being seen immediately on arrival. 

If you are a deaf or hearing impaired, our staff have a range of communication options to ensure that they can communicate effectively with you. This might include the use of clear masks where possible, as well as visual aids such as writing things down, speech to text apps and sign language.

All visitors will be expected to comply with existing social distancing and hand hygiene measures in addition to the face coverings while in the hospital setting.

Patient and staff safety continues to be our number one priority. We believe these measures for staff and patients will help to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

Further guidance will follow as it becomes available.

FAQs

Outpatients and visitors

Why are we asking visitors/patients visiting the site to wear face coverings?

Outpatients or visitors coming to the hospital will need to wear face coverings to reduce the risk of transmitting coronavirus to others. Evidence has shown that those infected with COVID-19 can have very mild or no respiratory symptoms (asymptomatic) and potentially transmit the virus to others without being aware of it

You are advised of the need to bring a face covering ahead of coming to hospital for planned and outpatient care.

What does this mean for shielding patients?

For those patients who are currently shielding, and who have been provided with a surgical face mask for their appointments, these should be worn. Where not already provided, patients should wear a face covering.

What about cloth/homemade/donated face masks?

Outpatient and visitor face coverings can be cloth and/or homemade (www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-covering). All visitors will be expected to comply with two-metre social/physical distancing and the recommended hand hygiene measures.

Does my face covering worn for religious beliefs/cultural practice qualify?

Face coverings worn as part of religious beliefs or cultural practice are acceptable, providing they are not loose and cover the mouth and nose.

What if an outpatient/visitor is unable to wear a face covering?

For some, wearing of a face covering may be difficult, and therefore all other measures will also be considered. Individual risk assessments will be undertaken where required; for example, patients with mental health and learning disabilities.