Doctor wearing a face mask for treating covid 19 - Credit: village photography / Alamy Stock Photo

Why we have had to bring back the masks - Medical Matters

Torbay Weekly

This week, Ian Currie, Medical Director, talks about the decision to reintroduce mask wearing for staff at sites across Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, including Torbay Hospital, where patients and visitors are being encouraged to wear one and what we can all do to help stop the spread of Covid.

You may be wondering why we have taken the decision to reintroduce mask wearing at Torbay Hospital and throughout our community sites. We are sorry that we have had to take this step again, but we believe it is important for us to act.

As you may know, there has been a sharp rise in Covid numbers nationally and the transmissibility of the new variants is proving to be high. One in 35 people in Devon are believed to be currently infected with Covid, according to our public health colleagues.

So, once again, we need to do everything possible to stop the spread of infection in order to protect our vulnerable patients, staff and the services we provide, and we are asking you to help us achieve this.

Covid cases are being felt across all areas of our hospital, with a number of patients having tested positive. This includes patients admitted as a direct result of Covid symptoms. The spike in cases is also affecting our staff, with a significant number of absences due to Covid-related illnesses.

While the good news is that most people are not seriously unwell with Covid, the rise in numbers in our hospitals and among our people and communities impacts on how we can deliver our services for the people who need our help.

In addition to this, we are continuing to see unprecedented levels of demand across our hospital, and our Emergency Department (ED) continues to be busier than ever.

Our staff are working incredibly hard to care for everyone who needs our help and we are asking the community to please show their support by taking the following steps:

  • Wear a mask, unless medically exempt, and use hand gel when visiting our hospitals, clinics or outpatient settings – hand sanitising stations are provided throughout our departments
  • Stay away if you have symptoms, or are a contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid – this is also the case for other infections, such as diarrhoea and vomiting, where we ask you allow 48 hours after symptoms have stopped
  • Think carefully about which service is best for your needs if you are unwell and need medical care – consider a pharmacy, your GP, or visiting Newton Abbot Urgent Treatment Centre unless it is urgent or a life-threatening emergency
  • Attend appointments on your own, wherever possible

You can also help us by taking sensible precautions at home and when you are out and about. We all want to be able to enjoy the summer, so making sure you continue with regular handwashing, keep a safe distance from others where possible and, if you are in an enclosed, poorly ventilated area, consider wearing a mask.

Try to meet family and friends outside where you can and if you, or someone you know, has any Covid symptoms, please do stay at home to reduce the spread of infection to others.

We understand that having these measures in our healthcare settings may be frustrating but they are essential in order to protect vulnerable people and allow us to keep delivering our services. Thank you for your patience and support.

Please note, our current situation remains under regular review from our Infection Prevention and Control Team and we regularly update our website and our social media with any changes.

Ian Currie
Ian Currie