People infected with COVID-19 can have very mild or no respiratory symptoms (asymptomatic). This means they can transmit the virus to others without being aware of it.

In line with World Health Organisation recommendations, we have introduced new measures to keep visitors, patients, and staff safe.

You now need to wear a face covering when you come to hospital as a visitor or outpatient. General visiting remains suspended.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus you should not come to hospital.

What does this mean for me?

We can all play a role in reducing the spread of coronavirus and keeping our hospitals safe. If you are coming to hospital as a visitor or outpatient it is important you wear a face covering at all times. This is for your safety and the safety of other patients and staff.

Face coverings can be cloth and they can be homemade. Advice on how to wear and make one is on the government website. Face coverings worn as part of religious beliefs or cultural practice are also acceptable, providing they are not loose and cover the mouth and nose.

We ask you plan in advance and bring a face covering with you whenever possible. If you do not have one available when you come to hospital, please see a member of staff or volunteer on arrival and we will provide you with one.

If you are currently shielding and have been provided with a surgical face mask for your appointments, please continue to use this. If you have not been provided with a surgical face mask, you should wear a face covering.

For some people, wearing a face covering may be difficult due to physical or mental health conditions. In these instances, other measures will be considered on a case by case basis, for example timed appointments or being seen immediately on arrival.

If you are a deaf or hearing impaired, our staff have a range of communication options to ensure that they can communicate effectively with you. This might include the use of visual aids such as writing things down, speech to text apps and sign language.

All visitors will be expected to comply with existing social distancing and hand hygiene measures in addition to the face coverings while in the hospital setting.

Where to get a face covering

Face coverings are widely available online, but you probably already have something suitable in your home. You can use a scarf, bandana, or piece of material to cover your nose and mouth.

You can make face-coverings at home – make sure it covers your mouth and nose. Barnsley Council have made some videos which show easy ways to make your own face covering to use in enclosed public spaces.

Many community groups are making face coverings for people to use during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

We will have some reusable face coverings available at the hospital at entrances. Some wards and departments will also have single-use face masks for you to put on as you enter that area.

How to wear a face covering effectively

A cloth face covering should cover your mouth and nose while allowing you to breathe comfortably. It can be as simple as a scarf or bandana that ties behind the head.

  • Wash before use.
  • Do not put the covering around your neck or up on your head.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before putting it on and after taking it off. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth at all times and store used face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them.
  • Do not touch the front of the face covering, or the part of the face covering that has been in contact with your mouth and nose. Once removed, make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched.
  • You should wash the face covering regularly, ideally daily. It can go in with other laundry, using your normal detergent, at the warmest appropriate setting for the cloth used to make the face covering.
  • Once washed, allow to completely dry before re-using.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we need to wear face coverings in the hospital?

Outpatients or visitors coming to the hospital will need to wear face coverings to reduce the risk of transmitting coronavirus to others. Evidence has shown that those infected with COVID-19 can have very mild or no respiratory symptoms (asymptomatic) and potentially transmit the virus to others without being aware of it

What happens if an outpatient/visitor does not have a face covering when they come to the hospital?

If an outpatient or visitor does not have a face covering when they come to hospital, reusable and disposable masks and coverings will be available. All people in the hospital will be asked to wear a mask or face covering.

What does this mean for shielding patients?

For those patients who are currently shielding, and who have been provided with a surgical face mask for their appointments, these should be worn. Where not already provided, patients should wear a face covering.

What about cloth/homemade/donated face masks?

Outpatient and visitor face coverings can be cloth and/or homemade (www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-covering). Any visitors will be expected to comply with two-metre social/physical distancing and the recommended hand hygiene measures.

Where applicable, visitors to high risk COVID-19 areas of the hospital or visitors of patients with confirmed COVID-19 must wear appropriate PPE as per the current IPC guidance  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-infection-prevention-and-control

Please note – All general visiting for inpatients is currently restricted.

I’m pregnant – will I have to wear a facemask when I’m in labour ?

No, we do not ask women to wear face masks in labour.

I’m pregnant – will I have to wear a facemask when on the ward before or after I have had my baby?

Women will not be asked to wear masks in the ward area on the Antenatal and postnatal ward, however, they can wear a mask if they prefer to. We will continue to request women wear masks when they are visiting the Neonatal Unit, or if they leave the ward area.

I’m pregnant – will my birthing partner have to wear a facemask when I am in labour, if they do, does that mean they won’t have to have their temperature checked?

Partners will be asked to wear face masks or coverings when walking around the hospital and leaving the birth room, however they will not be asked to wear masks in the birth room. The temperature and symptom checks on entering the Maternity unit will continue for birth partners.

Does my face covering worn for religious beliefs/cultural practice qualify?

Face coverings worn as part of religious beliefs or cultural practice are acceptable, providing they are not loose and cover the mouth and nose.

What if an outpatient/visitor is unable to wear a face covering?

For some, wearing of a face covering may be difficult, and therefore other measures will be recommended. This might include more strict social distancing, waiting in an isolated area, or other actions which will help ensure everybody’s safety.

What about the impact of masks on communication for people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment?

The use of face masks can have an impact on patients who are deaf or have a hearing impairment. Masks block the face of healthcare workers and prevent the ability to use visual cues such as facial expressions and lip reading. If you are a deaf or hearing impaired, our staff have a range of communication options to ensure that they can communicate effectively with you. This might include the use of visual aids such as writing things down, speech to text apps and sign language.