14 October 2022

COVID-19: Universal mask-wearing reminder in Scotland

The Scottish government recommends the continuation of universal masking in optometry practices.

The Scottish Government continues to strongly recommend the extended use of Fluid Resistant (Type IIR) Surgical Masks (FRSM) by healthcare staff, patients and visitors in all primary care settings, including optometry practices. While this has been in place since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, this infection control measure was recently reworded to reflect the historical change from legislation to guidance. This means universal masking in hospitals, primary care and wider community healthcare is now a strong recommendation, rather than a must, as was in previous iterations of the guidance. NHS funded PPE remains available to all optometry practices providing NHS care across Scotland.

This measure is in line with section B39 of the Guidance for Professional Practice, where optometrists should continue to wear a fluid-resistant surgical face mask (FRSM) where there is a public health requirement to wear one. 

Practices across England, Northern Ireland and Wales should remain vigilant to local transmission rates and local public health advice in the coming weeks. We have previously alerted members where local authorities have strongly recommended re-introducing universal masking. 

You may choose to implement universal masking if your practice-based risk assessment indicates it is a necessary infection control measure, based on your local respiratory infection case prevalence, including COVID-19, or a new circulating SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern. 

This article was correct at time of publication. 

Related further reading

Clinical Adviser for the College Daniel Hardiman-McCartney FCOptom on how to ensure a sustainable optometry workforce.

Clinical case studies can make a small but important contribution to the sum of clinical knowledge. Why do we need them, asks Kim Thomas, and how do you write one?