Patients asked to wear facemasks when visiting the Practice

This week sees the first full week when we've been asking that every patient and visitor to the practice who is entering the building wears a face covering.

Wearing a face covering helps to reduce the spread of coronavirus from anyone who is infected but is pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic, meaning they aren't yet showing any symptoms. This face covering could be a scarf, bandana or homemade mask (see below for ideas on how to make your own.) Ideally, we are asking that a surgical mask should not be used as it is important that these remain available for frontline NHS and Care staff. This stipulation from the practice came before the government announcement that face coverings should be worn on public transport and in some shops.

Many patients now arriving at the practice already wear their own often distinctive and attractive, homemade masks, which we really appreciate. We are also asking that patients come in for their appointments alone where possible, to further reduce the risk of any infection being spread. 

Dr Rebecca Hall is one of your GPs at the practice and has long been an advocate of homemade masks.

‘It was fairly clear to me that by mid-March we were heading for an imminent global shortage of PPE masks, and that of course is exactly what happened,’ says Rebecca. ‘We needed something done urgently. Through friends and connections we then dusted down our sewing machines and got planning. Over 40 sewers have so far been recruited into our informal group that we called Mask Force. As for design, we used a common sense approach, using four layers of thin cotton materials (fewer if we were working with thicker materials). We later added a pocket for a disposable extra filter in between the layers.’

By the beginning of May Rebecca and the dozens of her friends and colleagues had managed to produce over 2,500 face masks. A Facebook page was quickly set up at Mask Force Frome with patterns and designs being shared with a wider audience.

‘We have done all of this whilst organising ourselves strictly within government guidelines,’ adds Rebecca. ‘We have had no face to face meetings, but have contacted each other on Zoom and WhatsApp. Our Mask Force group has been excellent in helping us to deliver to Care homes, the town council, care agencies, local Frome pharmacies as well as to workers in shops and supermarkets. Mask Force has been so successful that it has spawned other groups both locally and further afield in the country. We have also been fortunate in having our own delivery cyclist, Jez, who transports ready to use masks  to the frontline recipients, as well as ferrying supplies, fabric and material between ribbon donors, stitchers and the recipients themselves.’

‘The homemade masks have been fantastic,’ says Rebecca. ‘It demonstrates once again the energy and generosity of so many local people in and around Frome. The mask that I wear when I work as a GP protects you and the mask that you now wear protects me.’

Anyone wanting more information about making the masks or alternatively wanting to contribute in any way are asked to contact Mask Force either by email or via their Facebook page.  


 If you want to make your own mask.....         

There are many different methods to making a mask that are being shared on the internet. Here are a few suggestions as to where you might like to start if you're thinking about making your own: 

You can make this basic mask - instructions via Mask Force Frome:

Mask Force Frome - visit their facebook page for some ideas about how to make a facemask or links to where you can buy them from in Frome. 

MiMi G Style - this link is to a youtube video which explains how to make a facemask (forward to about 3:30 for the instructions to start.)                        

Published: May 15, 2020