Updated October 2022
Guidance for the rules around mask wearing in hospitals for staff and visitors. The term FRSM used here stands for Fluid Resistant (TypeII) Surgical Mask.
Are staff and visitors to hospitals still required to wear a face mask?
Yes, staff and visitors to our hospitals are being asked to wear a fluid resistant surgical mask (FRSM) in all clinical areas, except for visitors and patients who are exempt. Masks are available at main entrances, wards and outpatient departments.
For non–clinical areas NHS Fife has moved to personal choice to wear a FRSM in these areas.
This guidance remains in place due to above settings hosting more highly clinically vulnerable individuals, for whom COVID-19 infection still poses a greater risk.
What is a clinical area?
All hospital wards including rooms directly off wards (such as secretary or doctor’s rooms).
Outpatient departments and radiology (including the waiting areas).
The clinical corridor level 1 phase 3 VHK.
What is a non-clinical area?
Office/admin areas that are not attached to wards. The education centres and libraries,
stair wells, official break areas, canteens, staff hubs and retail areas etc.
Am I still required to wear a mask in lifts?
The wearing of FRSM in lifts are strongly encouraged as they are confined spaces and always worn when transferring a patient.
What if my role means I go in and out of many clinical areas? Do I have to change my FRSM each time?
Rather than removing the FRSM on exiting each clinical area and then donning a new FRSM each time you enter a new clinical area, you may find it simpler to continue to wear your FRSM sessionally whilst continuing to change your mask if it becomes damp or uncomfortable.
Can I choose to continue to wear a FRSM in the non-clinical areas?
We ask all staff, visitors and patients to please be respectful of those individuals who wish to continue to wear a FRSM or continue with physical distancing.
Are there any other measures to consider to ensure a safe working environment?
Please ensure there is no overcrowding, keep areas well ventilated and practice good hand hygiene before and after donning and doffing your FRSM.
Staff are asked to continue to follow guidance on “Respiratory Symptoms and Attendance at Work”.
Do patients still need to wear a face mask?
FRSMs are strongly recommended to be worn by patients, outpatients and visitors across all healthcare settings.
If a patient declines to wear a face mask or is unable to tolerate one, the discussion and decision not to wear a FRSM should be noted in their patient/medical records.
Staff should ensure that anyone who is not able to wear a face covering due to an existing medical condition is not forced to do so or refused treatment.
When are patients not required to wear a face mask?
Patients do not require to wear a face mask if it cannot be tolerated/ patient is exempt or, compromises clinical care (e.g. when receiving oxygen therapy or when in labour), and children aged under 5.
It is recognised that it will be impractical for individuals to wear a face mask at all times and these can removed for reasons such as eating, drinking, sleeping or showering. Individuals should be provided with a new replacement face mask to put on after such activities where removal is required.
What if the person I'm caring for lip reads?
If the person that is being supported/cared for is a person who lip-reads to communicate then a transparent face mask may be worn.
The increased use of face masks has resulted in additional challenges to individuals who are deaf or rely on lip-reading, as well as others with different communication needs.
To address this issue, a transparent face mask has been developed which features a clear anti-fog front panel, which has been positioned to prevent reflection and make lip reading easier, and which can be worn to protect staff in healthcare settings where a Type IIR FRSMs would be worn.