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GP practice face mask advice is under review

Exclusive The Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England are reviewing whether to make face masks mandatory in GP practice settings, Pulse understands.

The news comes after the DHSC was able to finally clear up confusion regarding face mask advice in practices earlier this week, explaining that they are not mandatory.

Since May, people have been encouraged to wear a home made mask in enclosed spaces if they could not social distance, but since Monday, hospitals have stricter rules which means that a surgical mask is mandatory for both staff and visitors at all times.

But Pulse understands that making masks mandatory also in GP practices is under Government review, and in a webinar yesterday evening NHS England’s medical director for primary care Dr Nikki Kanani said that NHS England is ‘working with’ PHE to bring about GP-specific advice if possible.

She said: ‘PHE has not currently published primary care specific guidance but we are working with them to deliver that if we can because we recognise that this is something that is really important to colleagues in primary care.’

She added that she worked in general practice herself this week, noting that patients had a ‘mixed’ response to the advice to voluntarily cover their faces.

She said: ‘I was in surgery on Tuesday and we had a real mixed experience of how patients are responding to the face covering guidance that’s out there.

‘Obviously if PHE do develop guidance we’ll make sure that you get hold of it.’

NHS England and Public Health England sparked widespread confusion among GPs in the last week by seemingly giving different advice, with NHS England having said last week that the new rules would extend to primary care.

However, GPs were confused when it could not back this up with guidance and as PHE only published guidance for hospital settings.