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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


Our staff may choose to wear face masks, but they are no longer required to, apart from:

  • when caring for a patient with symptoms of a respiratory infection
  • when caring for patients with COVID-19, and when carrying out aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) on patients with a respiratory infection - in these cases we recommend a fit tested FFP3 mask
  • when caring for patients in Haematology, Oncology, Transplant, Chemotherapy, and Renal (including dialysis) or an immunocompromised patient outside of these areas
  • if advised by Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) (for example, if there is a localised outbreak).

Ensure your patient is comfortable with you not wearing a mask, and wear one if they (or a visitor) ask you to.

Wearing a face mask does not replace good ventilation and good hand hygiene, which must continue.

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 may wear face masks through personal choice, but must wear face masks - if tolerated and safe - if they have symptoms of a respiratory infection or are attending departments at the Churchill Hospital including Haematology, Oncology, Transplant, Chemotherapy, and Renal (including dialysis).


Visitors must wear face masks to visit immunocompromised patients, if attending departments at the Churchill Hospital including Haematology, Oncology, Transplant, Chemotherapy, and Renal (including dialysis), if advised by Infection Prevention and Control (for example, visiting patients with COVID-19), or if they choose to.

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 to wear face masks in certain areas or when with certain patient groups in our hospital buildings.

This applies to both clinical and non-clinical staff, 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 - masks can be removed unless the patient has COVID-19 or other respiratory symptoms. If the patient is immunocompromised, ensure they are being seen in a well-ventilated environment.
  • 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:20 April 2023