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NHSE: Wearing of face masks 'must' continue in pharmacies

NHS visitor guidance will stay in place in all health services to ensure patients and staff are protected
NHS visitor guidance will stay in place in all health services to ensure patients and staff are protected

Patients and staff must continue to wear face coverings in all healthcare settings – including pharmacies – when COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed, NHSE&I has said.

Speaking at a press briefing on Monday (July 12), Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the government will stick to its plan to lift social distancing and “legal restrictions” from July 19, although it recommends that people continue wearing a face covering “in crowded and enclosed spaces”.

However, in a statement published today (July 15) NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) chief nursing officer Ruth May said that “face coverings and social distancing measures will remain in place across healthcare settings", including pharmacies.

“It is vital that in healthcare settings, we do all we can to reduce the risk of infection for those working in our services and those who need our care,” Ms May added.

She said that “it is important for the public to continue to play their part when visiting NHS and care settings to help protect our staff and patients”.

“Staff, patients and visitors will also be expected to continue to follow social distancing rules” as well, NHSE&I specified.

C+D has asked NHSE&I if today’s position statement will be followed by specific guidance for pharmacies, and whether pharmacies will be allowed to refuse entrance to their premises to those who are not wearing a face covering.

RPS campaign

NHSE&I’s clarification comes as the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and other healthcare bodies wrote to Mr Johnson yesterday (July 14), urging for compulsory mask wearing to stay.

RPS England chair Thorrun Govind started campaigning for patients and staff to continue wearing face masks after the COVID-19 restrictions are loosened last week (July 6).

What are your thoughts on this announcement?

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

funny how we are not integrated into the NHS when they don't want us to be yet when it comes to masks we are

Watto 59, Community pharmacist

I might be wrong but I would question whether a statement from a chief nursing officer of the NHSe & I has the authority to impose a contractual change on how we operate our pharmacies.  I have not yet seen any official requirement to persist with a policy which has hardly any evidence for its effectiveness.

C A, Community pharmacist

Does this change Well Pharmacy's plans then?

Julie Shields, Pharmacy technician

So how will this work in a supermarket pharmacy setting if the supermarkets themselves do not make it mandatory to wear them in the store?

Watto 59, Community pharmacist

Difficult to make something mandatory that is not enshrined in law. As there  is  no obligation (quite rightly) to divulge the reason for not wearing a mask all a person has to do is say they do not need to wear one and there is no more to be said.

Watto 59, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

I would like some clarification from PSNC on whether NHSE&I will have the authority to impose a no longer legal requirement.  

R S, Community pharmacist

SAGE own words were they provide at best 10% reduction in infections, that's if you use the n95 masks, when the figures are scrutinized futher it's less than that. It's SPY-B that triggered mask wearing. When professor David Halpern (head of behavioral insights team) was interviewed by parlimentary select Committee about mask use and effectiveness, the 1 st words out of his mouth why we should all wear them was because it is a SIGNAL,!!! NOT because it effectively reduces infection, because they don't.

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

So another Virtue signal then!  Like many other things these days. 

I blame social media!  But obviously I'm an oldie! The only time I signal is when turning left or right. 

V K P, Community pharmacist

mask wearing requirement was flaunted when it was mandatory hence what makes RPS think that public will where face masks now? why should we be policing face covering? For being abused. no thank you. 

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Because...... we have a trainee solicitor in charge now!  I'm sure Boris and the Saj, are quaking in their expensive designer shoes! 


Peed Off Superintendent, Superintendent Pharmacist

It is 4 days away.....  Wales and Scotland have got it right in protecting frontline healthcare, England/Westminster have not. How does Ms May intend to get her message to 60 million people who have already been told officially that masks are voluntary?....

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

given the complete lack of PPE available to us from the NHS (where did all the masks given to alliance and AAH go?) during the peak of the pandemic, and no one in the NHS/DoH seemed to give a stuff, what is the panic now?

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