Is anyone else very worried about the guidance that healthcare settings don’t require masks any more, except in certain circumstances (I think oncology might be one area) and it is left for a trust to decide?
I personally feel this issue needs raising as people with blood cancer often end up in A&E or need to be treated by another department. They also need to access GP services safely. Having to request healthcare staff to wear a mask seems to be creating potential conflict for the patient. I know that I am going to put off having surgery for another issue because I don’t feel comfortable with the changes.
I had to take my daughter to an urgent care setting the other day (staff were masked) and the kind nurse suggested we should wait outside in the car as it ‘wasn’t safe’ - patients were coughing and weren’t wearing masks. Many also had families with them. My immunosuppressed Mum was recovering from an operation when, halfway through, the staff abandoned their masks (as per government guidance) with no regard for the fact that she was vulnerable to Covid.
I totally agrre with you. I am in the unfortunate position of having blood cancer and working in the mhs as a midwife. Staff and patients not required to wear a mask anymore unless in oncology or a and e. I feel so let down. Surely mask wearing is proof that infection rates are lowered. We are only in summer and have winter to come yet. Our trust has doubled covid patients in a week.
Hi Mandi, I am so sorry that you’ve been put in such an awful predicament with working in that environment. I think the only thing we can do is hope that Blood Cancer UK can campaign for their reinstatement and also contact our MPs. It seems to make zero sense at a time that infections are rising rapidly x
I am glad you posted this lousyT - you reflect i am sure the feelings of many of us. My extremely large hospital down on the south coast have been excellent throughout the pandemic with very good and strict covid protection control - until the NHSEngland guidance changed a couple of weeks ago and I was both horrified and saddened that the hospital announced no more masks required with immediate effect bar haematology and oncology departments - such a let down - apart from anything else do not the still vulnerable haem and onc patients have to get TO the departments first through a huge hospital ?? I went there for the first time earlier today - just for bloods - i always book the first 8am appointment as the hospital is a lot quieter then as it is heaving most of the day - it was 50/50 of those wearing and not wearing - fortunately all staff in the actual phlebotomy department were wearing masks but none of the patients behind me were - its a hospital full of vulnerable people why take the one simple precaution that helped us all? For the first time since the pandemic i felt unhappy and not safe in there and yet I have to go - i am having a ct scan not related to cancer on Friday and will likewise feel anxiety in going - and I dont think i should have to - in a week when the city i live in is FULL of covid - i have several dozen friends with it just now - I appreciate for the general population it can now be viewed as a simpler virus but as we know in this community that is not all of us and i feel very let down.
Hi @Jilly20 , I’m glad I’m not alone in thinking this is a bit crazy. I’m sorry that you are worried about your CT scan - I totally get it. Like you say, it’s a simple precaution to wear a mask, it’s a shame that vulnerable people can’t be protected. Perhaps you could ring ahead and ask whether they can take special precautions for you when you go for your scan? Like you say, Covid seems to be everywhere right now. Wishing you luck for Friday x
Hi @Jilly20, @lousyT and @Mandi713
Thank you for sharing your very valid concerns. As @lousyT has suggested, it’s worthwhile notifying any healthcare setting in advance that you are clinically extremely vulnerable. My dentist always wears an FFP3 mask for my appointments, after I persuaded him that I needed that extra precaution taken, due to being immunocompromised. I also wear an FFP3 mask for all appointments in healthcare settings so that even if the staff or other patients aren’t wearing masks then I will still be protected. These masks can be used multiple times provided that care is taken with their storage (I use a tupperware box in my handbag to store these masks).
Sorry I gave the wrong impression - I am not worried at all about having the ct scan this week as staff in any of the test or procedure depts continue to be very cautious and all face to face care have masks - as I mentioned when I had bloods done yesterday all staff had masks on - my point was about the new guidelines of masks not being necessary throughout the hospital, it makes what was a simple trip to a safe environment at hospital one that does not feel safe for the many vulnerable people going there - having the actual treatment or procedures are fine - but you have to get to the departments , go to the loo, wait with others, need a drink if travelled, all fine if all patients wear a mask not so good now it’s up to individual, choice - that means all those not vulnerable wont wear them - which proved true yesterday - and I don’t see why it should be so in a still ongoing situation with Covid, it’s a hospital with hundreds of vulnerable patients visiting daily and effort should be made to keep it safe for everyone.
I must admit i am a little worried about a hospital appointment tomorrow. I checked the hospital website which did say masks were not needed and only certain department required masks, didn’t say which. Luckily the haematology department has a separate entrance so i do not need to go through the rest of the hospital. At one of my early appointments after lockdown one of the nurses was not very sensitive to my concerns over the busy waiting room so I worry about the blood test part of my appointment. With visitors now allowed i assume the waiting room will also be busy again and there is usually an hours wait between blood test and seeing the consultant.
I will of course be wearing a proper mask but will want to be out as soon as i can
Thank you for raising this @lousyT and you are certainly not on your own with your worries. We have been taking this issue via our COVID steering group to the NHS to relay our communities concern.
We have also updated our ‘Coping with the lifting of restrictions’ webpage with the following:
Face masks in healthcare settings
Following a change in NHS guidance, it’s no longer compulsory to wear face masks in all areas of hospitals and other healthcare settings. If you are immunosuppressed, this may mean you may feel more worried about attending appointments.
What you can do
It’s understandable if you are concerned, but it’s essential to keep going to your appointments. There are steps you can take to lower your risk.
Remember that hospitals and clinics will still carry out local risk assessments in settings where patients are at high risk from covid. So departments like haematology or oncology may still require everyone to wear face masks.
If you’re not sure what the policy is or you have any concerns about your level of risk, call the hospital, clinic or surgery:
- Explain that you are immunosuppressed and at high risk from covid infection.
- Ask what the policy is about mask-wearing in the department or clinic where you have an appointment.
- If you don’t feel reassured, say that you will be wearing a face mask and request that staff and visitors do the same.
- Refer staff to our information on vaccine efficacy if you need supporting evidence.
Remember that surgical masks and FFP masks offer better protection than cloth face coverings. Masks classed as FFP3 offer the best protection to the person wearing them. Surgical and FFP masks should be used once and thrown away.
Keep following other infection control advice such as thoroughly washing or sanitising your hands regularly, avoiding touching your face and staying 2 metres from other people if you can.
We will update you with any feedback we receive.
Do take care,
Thank you @GemmaBloodCancerUK - it’s really helpful that BCUK are able to have input into the NHS and I hope they listen x
Further to my earlier posts, I am delighted to advise that my said hospital has today reintroduced mask wearing across the entire hospital for staff and patients in all settings due to the huge increase in Covid in my city - well done to them and my trust is restored in what is usually the best of hospitals.
I see this has happened in a few trusts today too.
Very interesting @Jilly20 we await to see if other trusts follow suit.
Covid numbers definitely on the rise here.
Anyone else any updates
Look after yourself
I would really like to see Somerset hospitals reinstate their mask protocol. Like all folk in this discussion I was appalled that mask wearing was no longer required except in cancer and haematology. Bizarre decision when you have to walk through the rest of the hospital, and as a blood cancer patient I also attend other clinics. On a recent visit to my optician I requested they wore a mask having been told ‘we’ didn’t need to wear them anymore.
There is obviously a rise in cases. I am currently on holiday, and a couple who were joining us did a test before they got out of the car. One of them tested positive! They went home. Not everyone tests anymore so I was grateful for that gesture.
I am hoping Portsmouth QAH follows suit
I have been catching up on all the medical appointments I missed since the start of Covid. I always ask that the person I am seeing 1) opens the windows before I step into a room; 2) wears a mask; 3) I wear a PPF3 mask myself which gives the highest protection; 4) When I arrive at my surgery in particular, after I have checked in, I will stand out in the hall away from other patients until I am called and ask the Receptionist to feltch me when needed (I explain I have Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) and am highly vulnerable); 5) We do not drive so if I need a cab for a medical appointment, they have a safety barrier and I ask them to keep their windows open and I explain my requirements when ordering a cab. I also ask that the cab driver wears a mask as well. I, myself, wipe down door handles and safety belt with antiseptic gel and wear plastic gloves as well.
Sadly our government does not like to face up to reality in that the vulnerable are still vulnerable due to the pandemic. Medical buildings follow suit in many cases by following government lines, rather than putting the vulnerable first. We have to help ourselves and stay firm.
Hope the above tips will be seen by others on the Forum and will help.
I’ve seen that Sherwood Forest Hospitals are reinstating masks now. I hope they keep them!
I agree, we’ve got to take our own measures too - I wear an FFP3 mask, even though they cost a bit I feel so much safer. I guess I’m just a little concerned about the power balance issue for people having to ask healthcare workers to wear masks and ventilate rooms though. Often people are feeling a bit vulnerable and having to request them to wear a mask when guidelines are so woolly, can feel quite intimidating. It can feel like another barrier to overcome when already perhaps having to have challenging conversations about care x
Hi Lousy T,
I do not feel intimidating if I ask people to ventilate their rooms or wear masks. I explain to them that if I catch Covid, unlike them, I have more of a chance of not a good outcome. I also find that they do not feel intimidated if I explain fully the situation that I am in, especially being in over 2 years of lockdown. (Most people are astounded at that fact, I find.)
I also say something like an ordinary person has over 90% of surviving Covid if fully vaccinated, but people with Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), which I have, do not.
Most people I find are usually sympathetic to my situation - basically because I find they, including often in the medical profession, do not have knowledge about our unique and awful circumstances due to the virus.
I will not put my survival at risk for anybody and most people seem to understand this.
Take care and stay safe,
I went to my GP today and there was a notice basically saying that National Health guidelines say that people do not have to wear masks now in medical settings, some staff are and others are not.
If you would like your particular staff to wear a mask ad take other precautions please do say your needs.
So I did !!!
In heamatology today and all staff had masks on but a few patients didn’t and weren’t asked to put one on. One patient with no mask on was coughing and sniffing so I kept my distance from him. I was surprised no one asked him to put a mask on.