Derbyshire hospital trusts bring face masks back after surge in Covid cases

A nurse wearing full PPE including an FFP3 face mask on a ward for Covid patients at King's College Hospital, in south east London. Picture date: Tuesday December 21, 2021.

Face masks have been reintroduced at some hospitals in Derbyshire after a spike in Covid in-patients.

It comes as there are now around 111 Covid-19 patients at the Royal Derby Hospital - one in intensive care - and 44 patients with Covid at Chesterfield Royal Hospital.

Mandatory face masks were dropped in non-clinical areas at the Royal Derby and Chesterfield hospitals last month.

However, they have now been brought back by the two trusts that run the hospitals.

The University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust (UHDB) said the majority of patients in its hospitals with Covid-19 were admitted due to other conditions, not due to the virus itself.

The trust said it also had 50 patients with the virus at its Queen's Hospital site in Burton-upon-Trent in Staffordshire.

Royal Derby Hospital Credit: PA

Across the Derby and Burton areas, this is the equivalent of seven wards' worth of patients, which is placing pressure on a health system that is already under immense strain.

UHDB says that the majority of patients in its hospitals with Covid-19 were admitted due to other conditions - not due to the virus itself.

The trust says the virus was detected "incidentally" through routine testing on admission.

Across Derby and Derbyshire, there have been around 2,000 new cases, compared to 2,400 this time last year.

Looking at Covid-19 deaths, there have been six Derbyshire deaths caused by the virus in the most recent week compared to this time last year when one Covid-caused death was recorded.

Dr Magnus Harrison, interim chief executive at the Derby and Burton trust, said: "We have today reintroduced mandatory wearing of face masks in all areas of our hospitals in order to keep our colleagues, patients and visitors safe.

"We appreciate this may be disappointing to some, but we will continue to keep our infection control measures under constant review with safety as our main priority."

He adds: "While our current level of patients who have tested positive for Covid-19 is not as high as we have seen in previous waves, this still adds significant pressure to our services at a time."

Dr Hal Spencer, chief executive at the Chesterfield trust, said: "This is a disappointing development but it is important that we continue to keep the health and wellbeing of everybody as our top priority.

"We are incredibly grateful for the continued support of our local community and ask that anyone coming onto site wears a mask.

"We will of course keep the situation under review and update across our channels as things develop."

The trust says the measure is "an immediate, hopefully temporary and precautionary measure, which we will hope to review at the earliest opportunity".