Wigan hospital staff abused by patients without masks

Staff at Wigan’s hospitals have faced abuse from patients and visitors after reminding them to wear face masks.

Friday, 3rd September 2021, 12:30 pm

While rules making it mandatory to wear coverings in shops and other indoor premises have been relaxed from the height of the coronavirus pandemic, they remain in place in healthcare settings.

Staff, patients and visitors are all expected to wear masks in clinical areas, while hand sanitiser is provided at each entrance and people are asked to continue adhering to social distancing.

But some people have not been happy about this when visiting Wigan Infirmary and other sites run by Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WWL).

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Chief nurse Rabina Tindale

Chief nurse Rabina Tindale, pictured right, said: “Unfortunately sometimes we do come across situations where some members of the public are not quite as compliant and sometimes do challenge our staff in perhaps not the kindest of ways, which adds pressure to our already pressured staff who are trying to do their jobs.

“I would ask that the public do work with us. The reasons we have these measures in place is to keep our staff safe and patients safe and to keep our Wigan community safe.”

She continued “We have had some instances where staff have approached relatives or members of the public to wear a mask and sometimes there has been a little bit of push-back, a little bit more aggressiveness in terms of verbal tone or aggression. We would ask people to comply and respect that our teams are only doing what they are asked to do.”

While people visiting supermarkets and other indoor venues are still encouraged to wear face coverings but ultimately allowed to make their own choice, that is not the case at hospitals in Wigan and elsewhere. Ms Tindale said: “It’s difficult for patients and the public because out there all the restrictions have been lifted and it’s personal choice about whether you wear a mask or not.

“In hospital premises, it’s not personal choice, it’s hospital policy and that’s in line with national guidance and expectations. At WWL we are not doing anything different to anywhere else.”

The rules about wearing masks and other measures will remain in place indefinitely in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

There were 33 patients with Covid-19 in the trust’s hospitals on Wednesday and five people had died with the virus in the previous seven days. Ms Tindale believes there are many reasons why wearing a mask could make a real difference.

She said: “It’s to make sure that we are being safe for the rest of our patients. It’s to stop the spread of Covid-19. It’s to make sure that our patients feel safe by visibly seeing that patients and staff are wearing masks.

“It’s also so our hospital staff can feel safe and we are in a position to be able to deliver care to the vast majority of patients because we are not overwhelmed.

“If everyone is doing their bit, by washing their hands, keeping a safe distance and wearing masks, we can reduce the spread of infection and start to see the rates decrease in our community. That means our services and NHS isn’t overburdened and our staff are less likely to contract Covid, so we are not facing staff shortages and we can deliver the care everyone wants.”

Ms Tindale said staff had been working “really hard” to keep providing services through the pandemic, but they needed help from the community to be able to continue, particularly as school pupils return to classes.

She urged people to continue following measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. For example, she suggested shoppers still wear masks and follow social distancing to protect the people around them.

“We still know the infection exists and it’s still prevalent,” she said

“People are getting back to normal and we are hoping to see a reduction, but only through working together as a community, maintaining safe distances, hand-washing and getting the vaccination when it’s available to you. We hope to see strides being made and infection rates subside.”

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