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NHS boss Amanda Pritchard hints Boris Johnson SHOULD have worn a face mask during the PM’s hospital trip as she says guidance is ‘clear’

  • Boris’s mask-less hospital PR visit last week provoked accusations of hypocrisy
  • Official guidance says masks must be worn in hospitals to protect the vulnerable 
  • NHS boss’s comments come alongside a scandal about Gov and following rules 

NHS England boss Amanda Pritchard says mask guidance is clear and that they should be worn in healthcare settings if it is safe for you to do so

NHS England’s boss took a thinly-veiled dig at Boris Johnson today for going barefaced during a hospital visit last week, warning the guidance on masks was ‘clear’.

Amanda Pritchard become the latest health leader to criticise the PM for his trip to Hexham General Hospital in Northumberland last week, after a World Health Organization adviser also took a swipe at him on failing to wear a mask during the trip.  

Asked directly whether Mr Johnson should have worn a mask during his visit to Hexham General Hospital in Northumberland, Ms Pritchard said that ‘people should wear masks in healthcare settings’. 

But the flustered NHS chief executive, who has only been in the job four months, said: ‘I wasn’t on the visit. So I’m afraid I don’t know the ins and outs of exactly what happened there.’ 

Pressed on whether she would have told Mr Johnson to put a mask back on, she added: ‘I’m sure my colleagues did encourage everybody there to follow the appropriate guidance.’

The image of the mask-less Prime Minister bumping elbows with masked-up nurses sparked furore on social media, and was cited as yet another example of Mr Johnson failing to follow his own rules.  

Mr Johnson has been criticised several times during the pandemic for appearing to go against his Government’s own Covid guidance.

The now infamous image of mask-less prime minister Boris Johnson has fueled accusations that he considers himself above the rules he sets for others

The new row over Boris Johnson’s lack of mask wearing came after his attendance at Cop26 in Glasgow, augmentin antibiotic for sinusitis where he was seen without a face covering as he sat next to Sir David Attenborough, 95, in the audience

While mask wearing was phased out as a legal requirement in most places on July 19 people still need to wear them in health settings like hospitals and care homes.

This is to help protect vulnerable people like the elderly or those undergoing cancer treatment, as well as staff who interact with them from a possible Covid infection. 

There are exemptions however, with the following groups some of those not required to wear masks:

  • Children under the age of 11
  • If the person has physical or mental illness or impairment that prevents them from doing so
  • If you need to communicate, or are providing assistance to, a person who relies on lip reading 

Outside of health settings official Government guidance is that the public should wear masks in crowded and enclosed spaces where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet, such as public transport.

He faced accusations of breaking the spirit of Covid visiting rules at Christmas last year by forming a childcare support bubble with Carrie Johnson’s friend Nimco Ali.

And Mr Johnson also famously boasted of shaking hands with Covid patients at a time when scientists were urging the public to avoid physical contact with one another. 

Mr Johnson visited the Hexham hospital last week, and photographs showed him meeting masked nurses, talking to them and bumping elbows with them, despite not having his face covered.  

Soon after that photo opportunity, the Prime Minister put on a mask, which had been handed to him by an aide.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said the Prime Minister ‘did wear a mask for the majority of the visit’, including in wards.

Official guidance says that all visitors to healthcare settings should wear a face covering providing they are not exempt from doing so.  

The trust said: ‘After the Prime Minister left a welcome meeting, he walked along a mezzanine corridor, for a very short period of time, without a mask.

‘As soon as this was identified he was given a mask and he put it on.’

Mr Johnson’s mask-less appearance at the Cop26 climate change summit also raised eyebrows earlier this month when he sat next to 95-year-old environmentalist Sir David Attenborough, who was wearing a face covering.

Compulsory mask wearing was largely phased out in England on July 19 this year, labelled ‘Freedom Day’ which saw and end to most of the Covid restrictions which governed public life since the on-set of the pandemic.

But health and care settings remained tightly governed with masks still compulsory for both staff and all visitors and patients who are able to do so.

Some exemptions do apply but these apply only to those who might have a choking hazard from masks, such as children and those whose physical or mental disabilities make mask wearing impossible or particularly challenging.

An exemption also applies when dealing with those who rely on lip reading as their principal means of communication.

At a Downing Street press briefing on Monday Mr Johnson insisted that he takes a ‘responsible’ approach to wearing a mask.

‘I wear a mask wherever the rules say that I should, and I urge everybody else to do the same,’ he said.

‘People have actually seen me wearing face coverings quite a bit more regularly as we have seen the numbers ticking up in the UK.

‘I think that is the responsible thing to do and I am going to continue to do it.’

Mr Johnson said the Government would ‘continue with our approach, which is to rely on people’s common sense – on people’s sense of personal responsibility to themselves and to others’.

‘But clearly in confined spaces, where you are meeting people that you don’t normally meet, you should wear a face covering.’

Boris Johnson’s and other senior figures history of failing to follow or enforce Covid guidance

Last week’s hospital visit was not the first time Boris Johnson has fallen afoul of his Government’s own regulations and he is not alone.

Earlier this the prime minister provoked outrage sitting next to 95-year-old Sir David Attenborough at the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow.

Mr Johnson and wife Carrie, faced questions over their actions during the Christmas period last year when it was suggested they broke lockdown rules by having Mrs Johnson’s best friend, political campaigner Nimco Ali, spent the festive period with the Johnsons at No10. The Johnsons have said they formed a ‘childcare’ support bubble with Ms Ali which was allowed under the rules at the time.

Mr Johnson also famously defended then aide and ally Dominic Cummings last year after the latter made the ‘Barnard Castle’ visit when he was supposed to be self-isolating under Covid rules at the time.

And at the start of the pandemic in the UK Mr Johnson told the nation he was still shaking ‘everyone’s’ hands even as scientists were urging the public to stop the practice to slow the spread of Covid. 

Mr Johnson is not the only Tory to fail to follow, or be accused of failing to follow, Covid guidance.

Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock eventually resigned when it emerged that he broke social distancing rules by kissing aide Gina Coladangelo in his Whitehall office in June this year.

Back on the topic of masks, Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg last month claimed Tory MPs do not need to wear masks when in Parliament as they  ‘know each other’ and have a ‘convivial, fraternal spirit’.

His statement put him at odds with Health Secretary Sajid Javid who suggested MPs and ministers should wear a face mask in the crowded Commons to set an example for the public.

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