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Alert COVID-19

Please find service updates and current visiting rules in our COVID-19 section.

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Face masks

This area is for OUH staff only - please visit the NHS website for general information about Coronavirus (COVID-19).

If you are an OUH staff member and you need further information, please speak to your line manager or email

Face masks in our hospitals


All staff must continue to wear masks in clinical areas in our hospitals.

This also applies to staff working face-to-face with patients outside our hospital sites.

Staff do not have to wear face masks in non-clinical settings, including in offices and break areas.

We recognise that some staff will prefer to wear a mask more widely, and this must be respected - many of our staff are also clinically vulnerable.

Please remember - wearing a face mask does not replace good ventilation and good hand hygiene. You should continue to practise these while wearing a face mask.

Wearing a face mask correctly

  • Wash or sanitise your hands before putting it on
  • Ensure the mask goes up to the bridge of your nose and all the way down under your chin
  • Tighten the loops or ties so it's snug around your face
  • Avoid touching your face, or the parts of the mask that cover your nose and mouth
  • Wash or sanitise your hands before taking it off
  • Use the ear loops to take the mask off and wash or sanitise your hands afterwards.

There is no set time, nor recommended number of masks you should use each day. It all depends on what you are doing.

However, if your mask gets dirty, wet or damaged, or if you touch the inside of it, then you should change to a new one (following the steps above). When you take it off to eat or drink, you should dispose of the old mask, wash or sanitise your hands, and replace it with a new one once you have finished eating.

Tips for wearing face masks (pdf, 271 KB)



Patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be given a face mask on admission, and a fresh mask as required. This should be worn in multi-bedded bays and communal areas if this can be tolerated, and is deemed safe for the patient. They are not required in single rooms, unless a visitor enters.

In areas where patients are at high risk of infection due to immunosuppression (for example, Oncology, Haematology, and Transplant), patients are encouraged to wear a face mask when not in a single room.

In outpatient or emergency settings, patients with respiratory symptoms should wear a face mask, if tolerated.

All other inpatients are not required to wear a face mask unless they would be more comfortable doing so.

Outpatients / visitors

If outpatients or visitors find wearing a face covering difficult, all other measures must be considered and introduced.

This could include social distancing, timed appointments and being seen immediately rather than spending time in waiting rooms.

Health conditions

In most cases face masks are safe for anyone to wear, regardless of health conditions, and all staff working on hospital sites are now expected under national guidance to wear face masks in the appropriate areas in our hospital buildings.

This applies to both clinical and non-clinical staff and to contractors and anyone else working on our sites.

Hearing loss

  • If a patient has hearing loss ensure a plan is put in place for how you are going to communicate with them.
  • Make sure you are facing the patient you are speaking to and speak clearly - avoid shouting, or speaking too fast or too slowly.
  • Write things down - use pen and paper, a white board, or text on device screens.
  • For patients who still have some hearing, make sure the environment is quiet and speak loudly and clearly.
  • If the patient uses a hearing aid, make sure they are wearing their hearing aid and the battery is working.
  • Use simple gestures, and sign language if known.
  • If someone doesn't understand you, repeat what you said or phrase it differently - remember to use plain language.
Last reviewed:21 November 2022