250,000 clear face masks are to be delivered to frontline staff
NHS and care workers will be given clear face masks to help them communicate with people with certain conditions like hearing loss, autism and dementia, the government has announced.
The masks are see-through and have an anti-fogging barrier to ensure the face and mouth are always visible to help doctors, nurses and carers communicate better with their patients.
With around 12 million people in the UK thought to have hearing loss, the masks will be invaluable for people who need to lip-read to communicate during the ongoing response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and beyond.
The masks will also help those who rely on facial expressions to support communication. For example, people with learning disabilities, autism or dementia, or foreign language speakers and their interpreters.
The new deal with US-based company ClearMask will see 250,000 masks delivered to NHS trusts and social care providers across the UK over the next few weeks.
Minister for Care Helen Whately said:
Everyone using our remarkable health and care system deserves the best care possible and communication is a vital part of that.
This pandemic has posed numerous challenges to the sector, so we are always on the hunt for simple solutions to support those giving and receiving care.
This applies across the whole of the UK and the government is working with the devolved administrations on allocations of the masks. The first delivery has already been distributed to NHS trusts, with further deliveries over the next couple of weeks.
Social care providers will also have access to the masks through a new pilot system with Local Resilience Forums.
The Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England and Improvement will continue to work closely with suppliers on future orders based on demand.
The clear masks have met the government’s strict safety standards and will be rolled out to frontline workers over the next few weeks.
The government has delivered over 3 billion pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) to the frontline and are working with around 130 new companies, including Royal Mint, Honeywell, Amazon and Royal Mail, to rapidly manufacture, source or distribute PPE at scale and pace.
This follows a national and international call to arms in April asking industry to channel their manufacturing power into making PPE for the health and care sector.