Surgical face masks will be provided by the Trust. These are available now from your nearest PPE hub.

All teams should make sure there is always a supply in their work area – this is now part of the workplace assessment all line managers are responsible for completing.

There will also be supplies of surgical masks at the main entrances to all our buildings.

To prevent the risk of contamination, it is important you change your surgical face mask regularly as follows. This applies to both clinical and non-clinical staff.

  • When you remove it

  • If you have exposed your nose or mouth, eg pulling the mask under your chin

  • When it is damaged, damp or wet

  • After a maximum of four hours' use

  • When leaving or entering a clinical area

Non-clinical staff should dispose of used masks in a black bin. Additional bins are in place at main entrances and exits for all our buildings.

Clinical staff should continue to dispose of used masks in the same way you currently do, depending on which setting you work in.

Please remember, surgical face masks pose a patient safety risk and can be used to self-harm or ligature. Therefore, it is vital masks are disposed of correctly and are not dropped in the grounds on our sites.

This visual shows the correct way to dispose of surgical face masks in different scenarios.

No, you do not need to wear a surgical face mask outside on Trust property. However, if you are with another person, you must continue to maintain social distancing or you may choose to continue wearing a face mask for added protection.

Yes. In addition to wearing a surgical face mask, you must continue to wash your hands regularly, follow increased infection prevention control hygiene measures and maintain social distancing. Together, these will give you the best protection possible to keep you and our patients safe.

No. You should eat and drink during scheduled breaks in a designated break area.

If you are taking a break in a designated break area, your face mask can be removed and disposed of in the appropriate waste bin. You must then complete hand hygiene.

You must remain at least two metres away from anyone else and consideration must be given to staff having staggered break times.

Once your break is finished, you must 'don' (put on) a new surgical face mask and ensure it is securely fitted to your face. Then complete hand hygiene with alcohol hand gel.

Yes. You can have a drink at your desk by adjusting your surgical face mask by removing the ear strap with one hand, holding it by the ear strap securely in your hand and not letting it hang from the ear. You must not touch the front of the mask. You must be at least two metres away from anyone else while the mask is in this adjusted position. The mask must not touch any other surfaces.

When you have finished your drink, readjust your mask, replace the ear strap and ensure the mask is fitted securely to your face. Your mask must be in this adjusted position for less than 15 minutes. You must then immediately complete hand hygiene with alcohol hand gel.

If your face mask is damaged or wet or you have been wearing it for more than four hours, it must be appropriately disposed of and replaced.


You should move to a designated break area to eat your lunch or other meals.

If you are eating a biscuit, piece of fruit or other snack that you can eat while holding your face mask in the adjusted position as above, you can follow the same method of removing and holding the ear strap, then replacing when you have finished. Your mask must be in this position for less than 15 minutes.

This short video shows how you safely adjust your face mask to have a drink in a shared area.

In order to keep our staff and patients safe, all staff working on our sites or in the community must wear a surgical face mask at all times unless working alone in an office.

If you are unable to wear a face mask due to health reasons, you will need to have a conversation with your line manager who will work with you to see what arrangements can be made for you to support your service in an environment where you wouldn’t need to wear a surgical face mask. This would be either working in an office alone or at home.

You must also complete a risk assessment and consider with your line manager whether a referral to Occupational Health may be necessary to provide you with additional support to keep you safe.

Please don’t worry if this affects you, your health and safety comes first and we will find a way for you to continue to make meaningful contributions to our patients and wider Trust during this difficult time.

As long as your own supply are approved surgical face masks which have a CE trade stamp and are fluid resistant (marked FR), you can choose to use your own.

No. A visor can be worn in addition to a surgical face mask, but not instead as it serves a different purpose. Wearing a surgical face mask will help prevent staff from needing to self-isolate.

Yes. We are making arrangements to have these available to staff very shortly. 

Yes, if you're working in a shared office with one or more other people you need to wear a surgical face mask at all times, including when sitting at your desk and when on calls or virtual meetings.

We know this is difficult, but please remember you should be working from home if possible, which will reduce the number of occasions people will need to work in shared offices.

Yes, you must continue to wear a surgical face mask if you are in any shared space with other people. This will help keep everyone safe.

Yes, you must continue to wear a surgical face mask if you are in any shared space with other people, even if you are socially distanced. This will help keep everyone safe.

At a time when services are facing additional challenges to respond to the second wave of the pandemic, and as we head towards winter, we cannot afford to lose groups of staff for 14 days as a result of failing to follow our guidance.

For this reason, if you are required to self-isolate as a result of failing to follow our workplace guidance, we reserve the right to ask you to take paid or unpaid leave for the duration of your self-isolation.

Each individual will be considered on a case-by-case basis as a result of the test and trace process carried out by our Infection Prevention Control Team.

If you see anyone who is not adhering to our requirements, please don't be afraid to 'call it out'. Have a conversation with the person to make sure they know what they should be doing. This is about protecting everyone and it's important we are all comfortable with alerting people who may be putting others at risk.

We are complying with national infection prevention control instructions; it is not something we have researched as a Trust. Our aim is to do everything we can to make sure we are compliant, maintain the highest levels of safety and prevent the spread of the virus.

Yes. Before we changed the guidance, we consulted Ann Cunliffe, our staff side chair, who also spoke with other staff side colleagues. They supported the measures we have introduced around staff needing to wear a surgical face mask instead of a face covering.

From our PPE audits, this is not something we are experiencing and we are proud of how staff are responding to these measures to prevent the spread of the virus. However, if a member of staff refuses to carry out a reasonable management instruction, it would be considered a disciplinary matter, which we hope it wouldn't come to.

Yes. Any visitor – including patients, public, contractors and staff from other organisations – to our sites must wear a surgical face mask in line with our updated guidance. 

If patients or visitors are exempt from wearing a surgical face mask due to a health condition, they should be supported by staff to ensure they understand the importance of and follow all other infection prevention and control precautions, including hand washing and maintaining social distancing.

Yes. When contractors are on our premises they will be required to follow our rules and it is something we will enforce. Our Estates and Facilities Team has written to all contractors to explain our new guidance. If you work with contractors, please make sure they are wearing surgical face masks on our sites. These are available at all main entrances.

If you are on someone else's premises then you should adhere to their rules. However, we expect our staff to wear what we consider to be the highest level of safety protection. This will also help to prevent staff from needing to self-isolate if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace or our own Infection Prevention Control Team after having been in contact with someone who tests positive for Covid-19.