Great Britain

NHS boss slams Matt Hancock after hospital visitors and patients made to wear masks ‘without any notice or consultation’

AN NHS boss has slammed Matt Hancock for making hospital visitors and patients wear masks "without any notice or consultation".

Chris Hopson, CEO of NHS Providers accused the Government of "rushing" its decision, which means outpatients without a mask will not be able to attend appointments.

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The Health Secretary revealed yesterday that everyone working in a hospital must wear the masks to help stop the spread of the virus.

Speaking at the daily Downing Street press briefing, Mr Hancock also said the Government was issuing new guidance for those working in clinical settings.

He said: "As the NHS reopens it is critically important to stop the spread.

"All hospital visitors and outpatients will need to wear face coverings.

"One of the things we have learnt is those in hospital are more likely to catch coronavirus whether they work in a clinical setting or not.

"All hospital staff will be required to wear type one or two surgical masks.

"It will cover all staff working in hospitals, apply at all times, not just when doing lifesaving work on the frontline.

How, as a Government, do you really irritate NHS trust CEOs at the end of another difficult, busy, hard, week?

Chris Hopson, CEO of NHS Providers

"This will apply in all areas except designated covid secure workplaces."

But some NHS bosses were "irritated" by the sudden news.

Chris Hopson wrote on Twitter: "How, as a Government, do you really irritate NHS trust CEOs at the end of another difficult, busy, hard, week?

"Announce two major operational policy changes on visiting and PPE usage at 1700 on a Friday afternoon without any notice or consultation. They are not amused."

Speaking on BBC Radio Four's Today programme, he added this morning: "Two major changes on the use of PPE and on visiting policy were announced late yesterday afternoon at the end of what, to be a frank, was a busy, difficult and hard week for our trust leaders, with absolutely no notice or consultation.

"I think it's the latest in a long line of announcements that have had a major impact on the way the NHS operates in which those organisations feel they have been left completely in the dark and they are then expected to make significant or complex operational changes either immediately or with very little notice."


The Department of Health insists NHS England was fully aware of last night's announcement and that bosses have more than a week to prepare, but Mr Hopson said many questions remain.

He said: "Potentially 1.2 million NHS staff are now being asked to wear face masks. Does that apply to every single site and building in the NHS where there is no patient-facing activity?

"How many masks as a trust leader will you need? What backup, buffer stock will you need? Have you got enough space to store that stock?

"Where are you going to issue the masks from?

"Are you issuing the supply to every member of staff each day, each week, each fortnight?"


SAGE documents yesterday revealed cloth face coverings are less safe than surgical face masks at stopping the spread of coronavirus.

But the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies warned they could still help stop transmission of the virus particularly when combined with social distancing.

The documents said: "Face masks can be used to protect the wearer (protective) or to prevent the wearer from spreading infection (source control).

"Face masks are less effective, and are no substitute for, other transmission control measures such as case isolation, hand hygiene and social distancing."

This week Brits were ordered to wear face masks on buses and trains — with fines for refusing.

Ministers will make it a “condition of carriage” for face coverings to be worn on public transport from June 15 in a bid to slash the spread of coronavirus.

Passengers without a face mask will not be allowed to board or told to get off at the next stop.

British Transport Police will have powers allowing them to issue on-the-spot fines to rule breakers. Young children, the disabled and those with breathing difficulties will be exempt.

So far, face masks on public transport have been only a suggestion.

But The Sun reported in April the growing consensus on their effectiveness in helping to reduce the virus’s spread.

And with more and more data suggesting the same, ministers are keen to enforce widespread use, especially with the numbers of businesses and schools reopening set to rise.

At Thursday's Downing Street briefing, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said people in England will be “required to wear face coverings” on public transport both to ­protect themselves and others from mid-June.

Speaking yesterday, he said: "I can announce that as of Monday 15 June, face coverings will become mandatory on public transport.

"The evidence suggests that wearing a face masks offers some, limited protection.

"You can be refused travel if you don't comply and you could be fined.

"It’s a condition of travel. You cannot travel if you are not wearing a face covering."

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