Bring back face masks in Scottish healthcare, doctors tell ministers
Face mask guidance should be reintroduced in Scottish healthcare settings, doctors argue - and claim its removal is like "playing Russian roulette" with staff and patient health.
Official Scottish Government guidance on the wearing of face coverings in clinics, dental practices and hospitals was withdrawn in May after the World Health Organisation announced that Covid-19 was no longer a global emergency.
The decision was criticised by members of the British Medical Association (BMA) Scotland and now the Scottish Healthcare Workers Coalition is calling for the reintroduction of masks in health and social care settings.
The group, which also seeks action to improve ventilation and air filtration, says it is "unclear" that a health and safety risk assessment was taken before the guidance was axed, a move "viewed by some patients as playing Russian roulette with their health".
Dr Shaun Peter Qureshi of the coalition said: "At-risk patients have entirely legitimate concerns that they may endanger their health by visiting their GP or hospital.
"With at least four per cent of NHS staff now living with chronic post-Covid complications, the Scottish Government must follow the evidence and improve protections from the airborne spread in healthcare settings, not reduce them."
The Scottish Government said the withdrawal of guidance on the extended use of face masks is a "proportionate approach which recognises that Scotland continues to adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic and has entered a calmer phase of the pandemic".
A spokesperson said: "Any change to the extended use of face masks and face coverings guidance is in relation to the latest scientific evidence and is continually under review.
"The removal of this extended guidance does not stop or prevent staff, service users or visitors from wearing a mask."