Hospital chief ‘surprised’ by lack of consultation over face mask requirement for all staff

Nick Hulme, chief executive of the East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust, said he was surpri

Nick Hulme, chief executive of the East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust, said he was surprised by the Government's announcement on Friday Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Ipswich and Colchester hospital chief Nick Hulme has said he felt the frustration of NHS providers after the Government announced major changes to policies in hospitals on Friday night regarding face masks.

From June 15 all hospital visitors and outpatients in England will be required to wear face coverings and all hospital staff will need to wear surgical masks.

The announcement was made by West Suffolk MP and Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Friday evening at the daily press conference at Downing Street.

Speaking on BBC Radio Suffolk on Saturday morning, Mr Hulme said that he had been surprised by the announcement.

“It was a complete surprise,” said Mr Hulme.

“I think I feel the frustration of NHS providers, making a significant policy announcement at 5pm on a Friday evening.

“We were still at work but we have to think about the implementation of that.

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“Though the Government has given us until June 15, it’s a massive undertaking in terms of getting the guidance right for staff and patients.”

Mr Hulme said he felt the timing of the announcement had been “insensitive”.

He said that there had been a lack of consultation with hospitals about the planned changes and said that he would have appreciated some forewarning by the Government that the policy was being announced.

Despite this, Mr Hulme said he didn’t disagree with the changes and said his team would also be looking at proposed easing to hospital visiting restrictions.

“It’s been really difficult for patients and their loved ones not being able to visit,” said Mr Hulme.

“So we are looking at that guidance as well over the weekend.”

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