I have a face to face appointment with Rheumatologist coming up and have just heard that they have dropped all mask wearing in the clinics. I am very nervous and unhappy about this. I feel that I am in a position I have no control over and it is freaking me out. I was going to cancel my appointment and ask for a telephone appointment instead as I have nothing to report and no questions to ask. It would also give someone else the chance of a face ro face, someone who really needs it. The problem is that I have to go to the same clinic for my blood tests 3 days later so it seems pointless. Am I being totally paranoid, just putting off the inevitable? Has anyone else been in this position and how did you feel when you went to your appointment. Thanks for listening everyone.
No mask wearing: I have a face to face appointment with... - NRAS
No you're not being paranoid. I'd be concerned too, especially as I heard that the infection rate is on the rise.
No your not . My appointment 2 weeks ago all staff still wearing masks.. this is madness
Not in the slightest. Whilst not Rheumy appointment I have a hospital appointment this afternoon with my Podiatrist. Whether or not I find the hospital I attend have stopped wearing masks I shall be wearing one. I can see no reason for you not to do the same. Don't fret Sheila, it's not worth stressing about. Just wear one as normal. I doubt anyone will ask you to take it off. 😷
Update: Nobody was wearing masks in the foyer or at reception, nothing said about me doing so. When I entered the waiting room one of the two patients there was wearing one, then another arrived who wasn't. Once we were in the room my Podiatrist told me I could remove my mask unless I'd prefer to leave it on, which I thought was the ideal way of approaching it. I just said “I'd prefer to leave it on thanks”, her response was a positive “that's fine”. No issues at all, so I’d do as you prefer Sheila, don't cancel, attend the clinic & wear your mask.
Nothing to stop you wearing one if you wish though
I'm surprised to hear this; attended a blood test clinic last week and everyone was wearing a mask. If it was me I'd probably ask for a telephone appointment and explain why and ask if they're wearing masks for blood tests - hopefully they are.
I don't think you're being paranoid Sheila, I wouldn't like that either and I would still wear a mask!
Thank you for your reply. If I go I will but rhemy will want to see me at some point.
You could try ringing to say you will wear a mask if you attend and ask if that would be a problem. I'm sure they won't mind though. x
I still go to my clinics wearing masks ….whatever their rules are..I find I am not the only one…I have my own rules for my own safety & I won’t be bullied into going mask free until I want to.So head up…..& if you want to……get that mask on!
I've just been for an ENT appt this morning, and was surprised to see many people not wearing masks. We then saw a sign saying it was no longer mandatory in the hospital, but voluntary. I would say the ratio seemed about 50/50 in both staff and patients. Obviously, me and my parents kept ours on, and people were still sitting spaced out, so we weren't close to anyone. The hospital also still seemed to be far less busy than pre-covid. On that basis, I generally felt OK there.
I hope this helps give an idea of what it might be like. Thankfully, my appt was early for me(😳), but it did mean I wasn't there long.
Obviously I can't say whether it would be better for you to swap from a f2f, it depends whether you would feel OK in the kind of situation I described above. I'm almost glad I didn't know, as I didn't have chance to think about it!
BTW, you're not being paranoid, just understandably cautious. I hope whatever you decide goes well.
Best wishes 😊
I wear my mask and even though I am in the minority I think it is up to us as to do what we feel is best for us and our situation. In the last two weeks I have been to three hospitals, one of which is the same hospital (technically) but on another site. All appear to have their own rules. Even the two that are linked, one is still requiring mask wearing (and staff are wearing masks also) but the other (which is my least liked)seems to have returned back to it's old ways (the place looked dirty and building works taking place outside the front entrance so dust going into the building) and I felt uncomfortable being there. I was even told you don't have to wear that now, to which I replied, thank you but I'd rather keep it on. The third hospital was still asking for people to wear masks and had boxes of masks available and a sanitising station and most people did wear a mask and sanitised. All I ask is that people don't judge or bully me into not wearing a mask, if they choose not to do so that is their choice but as it is their choice they should also respect others who wear a mask too.
Hope whatever you decide to do that your appointment goes well for you. Take care x
You could wear one if you wanted?
I had a nurse appointment last week and I noticed when walking to the clinic that a lot of people including staff weren't wearing a mask. The specialist nurse who I saw had one on and I asked her what was happening. Was told that in certain areas of the hospital you no longer had to wear one but in certain areas you had to. Rheumatology had to wear one because they deal with immune suppressed patients. It may be the same at your hospital.
Thank you. I don't go to the hospital, it is a Centre for different medical clinics including rheumatology, which takes pressure off the hospitals. They moved out a few years ago. My friend was there on thursday and didn't see any staff wearing a mask. I am hoping that maybe they are not wearing them walking about but the rheumatologist will be wearing one in the clinic.
No you're not being paranoid, but are you sure they will not be wearing masks in the Rheumatology department? At my hospital the Rheumatology staff and patients continued to wear masks (and insist on it) whereas other departments and general areas did not. Hand sanitising and social distancing was also encouraged within the department.
But if you wear a top quality FFP2 or FFP3 mask you are protecting yourself. And you can always politely ask any Rheumatology or Phlebotomy staff if they would please wear a mask too to protect you.
Hopefully they will be wearing them in their rooms when seeing patients. I will certainly let her know my concerns if she isn't. Thank you.
I agree that a properly worn FFP3 mask (so that you are breathing through the mask not air gaps around it) along with good hand hygiene will give good protection. If you wear glasses even better. Be careful not to rub eyes after touching surfaces as the eye is a common route to viral infection.
Hi I had appointment yesterday and no masks at all. Its personal choice if you want to wear it though. Cases are rising but no one seems to care anymore as no testing so who knows who has covid around us.
Do as you feel right but wear mask if you feel safer. Again I was told its personal choice x
Just wear one.No problem as it's up to the individual. Our hospital clinics haven't dropped masks.
I will but right at the start the medics said masks are to protect others from your germs not the other way round. The bottom line is I know I have to go as it is just putting off a visit temporarily. I will have to go sometime so will just grin and bear it. Thank you.
You'd be right to request a telephone appointment and tell them why. If blood clinic is walk-in can you go late in the day when it tends to be less busy?
I went to get my spring booster on Sunday at St George's Hospital. The vaccine clinic is obviously full of elderly and immunosuppressed people and yet most staff were not wearing masks. Infuriating. (And then the clinic was cancelled so I didn't even get my vaccine!)
Oh no. Sorry you didn't get your vaccine. My clinic is all booked appointments for rheumatology but not on the day I see the Rheumatologist. I am going to ask her if one of the nurses will take my blood while I am there to save me going again three days later. My Rheumatologist is lovely and I am pretty sure she will say yes if there is anyone available,
Wear a mask if you want to, and you could have a disposable one with you and ask the consultant to wear it if you wanted. Although I appreciate that doesn’t help with other people you are near. We all have different situations, and everyone’s should be respected. I’ve stopped feeling afraid of covid since vaccination, but then I work in an infant school, so I‘ve been coughed and spluttered on, quite literally, throughout even the worst time.
I know how you feel
I had to travel by train to hospital on Royal Ascot day and a woman coughing in the carriage said she wished she could get rid of this covid!!!?!?
I wear my mask all the time and take responsibility. I wear the N type masks. I’ve also been known to double mask. Keep your distance and politely ask if they will put on a mask. I ask everyone and have never been refused.
Your rheumatologist should know you are vulnerable and wear one anyway x
At my hospital all clinical areas where patients are seen we still have to wear masks. That’s both staff and patients. Corridors within the hospital and office spaces/restaurants/cafes etc it’s no longer mandatory xx
I had an urgent appointment with rheumatology department during the pandemic and I was very surprised that the doctor didn’t wear masks or gloves when I was examined. If you are uncomfortable id just wear your mask, we really want to get back to normality and have face to face appointments again. They did wipe the chair after I got up though and hospital made sure I had a mask on and washed my hands before I entered the building.
If you wear a good quality mask you will have good protection. I’ve started wearing mine again. Do what you feel is right.
I had f2f yesterday for retinopathy screening, masks were worn. I am nervous about going out, but I cannot stay isolated for the rest of my life. so I will always wear a mask and do everything to keep me safe. If anyone queries it I say I’m wearing it to keep me safe but also others.. personally I don’t believe I will go out without a mask again,,
You can wear a face mask if you feel happier wearing one. xxx
Your feelings are valid Sheila. It is hard but we can only control our own actions. Have all your vaccinations and boosters, wear a mask and use sanitiser. If it is any consolation, my daughter is an OT and has worked directly with covid patients in a neurorehabilitaion unit and these measures have stopped her getting it despite being in very close contact. Good luck with your appointments.
From what I can understand staff in cliniics where there might be clinically compromised patients, masks are being worn,,,but not in the corridors etc, Personally I think this is a big step back, and I don't like it. The whole concept of treating Covid like flu has one biig flaw...when someone has flu it shows, so you can keep your distance...with Covid there are no glaringly obvious signs in the beginning for most people. I do understand the economy etc etc and the need for our country to be up and running in that respect etc but I think this is a step too far. Masks should be used on public transport, too. My daughter in law travels on the London tube and she is often the only one in a carriage to be wearing one, That has to be asking for trouble. There is nothing that we can do except to look our for ourselves and our loved ones by being as careful as we can be. Take care, Sheila, wear your mask and hopefully others will do so too.
I'd like to add to the above comments. Here in Australia, we have recently been through a surge of (documented) cases of 100,000 per day, probably much higher than that in actual cases. As soon as the numbers started to fall, many restrictions were quickly discontinued, as 93%+ of the population was fully vaxxed, and immunocompromised individuals had all been offered four jabs. As masks were dropped, it was not unusually for me to be one of only 3 or 4 customers wearing a mask in a supermarket, although I was never, ever challenged or looked upon disapprovingly. In the intervening couple of months, I have noticed a dramatic uptick in voluntary mask-wearing, and many of the staff in shops are choosing to mask again. I couldn't imagine that anyone would demand that you take your mask off, and I have found that if I carry some extra masks with me, most people have been more than accommodating if I offer them in close quarters. This change in masking requirements just takes a bit of time to adjust to, but in my experience there really hasn't been any conflict, and I just have to mention that I'm immunocompromised and I receive understanding nods and people take a step back if they're too close. I think if you go into it with a positive attitude, while not compromising your own masking requirements you'll soon see that it can work . I was very nervous at first, but the N masks seem to have done a pretty good job of protecting me thus far. As there is no cure on the horizon, I am choosing to be out and about (albeit infrequently), and have a healthy respect but a little less fear about becoming very ill. We are having brilliant results with the antivirals at the moment, which is reassuring as well. Good luck with whatever you choose to do!!
Hello Sheila. I had a face to face appointment yesterday at the hospital with my rheumatologist and had a mask; she didn't as it is no longer obligatory but if I had asked she would have put one on I'm sure. I had my fifth jab over a month ago so I was not worried.
When I got my bloods some ppl were wearing and some weren’t Hosptial have said you don’t have to wear one. But it’s not stopping you from wearing one. It’s a personal choice. I will wear until I feel comfortable not too. My body my choice. You don’t need to explain it to anyone but yourself. My rhemy appointment is via phone this time. So I’m going to be not wearing a mask lol because I’m in my house
My daughter in law is a renal nurse and has been on frontline on Covid wards and has so far always avoided Covid by masking up and being very careful. She is part of an antibody research study at her hospital and they have confirmed she’s never had Covid.
However she explained the new thinking to my husband last week and it is that the blue masks are full of micro plastics which hospital staff working long hours have been breathing in. Apparently lung tests have confirmed this and also the blue masks have had a terrible impact on the environment when disposed of. So she says this is why mandatory mask wearing is being stopped and it’s to become a matter of personal choice.
To me this makes sense and I have my own FFP3 masks which I order from Germany and I recycle them so have 20 and they are more roomy as cup around my mouth and work well for me and I don’t feel they are as polluting due to me recycling them until I can’t.
I was in hospital as inpatient for a week last week on a neuro ward getting infusions. I did get very mixed messages from hospital policy as I wasn’t allowed home at the end of the day due to Covid risk. Yet staff were all off home to families and were shopping unmasked etc. I wasn’t masked as had a side room to myself with window open and fan.
I still thought this was absurd as I would have been much safer going home each day as someone living with only my husband and not shopping or mixing or taking any risks at all. The last young nurse who was looking after me told me she was unvaccinated and so was her 7 year old and both have had Covid twice.
All staff wore blue masks while I was there but they weren’t all wearing them over their noses and an older nurse was very dismissive when I said I was still shielding. She said “that idea no longer exists - you are just being paranoid!”. Not good for my mental wellbeing but I explained that I’m very immune suppressed and really don’t need Covid.
The mixed messages of hospital policy are ridiculous around Covid these days but I can at least understand why staff don’t want to wear masks for 8-12 hour shifts anymore. I think it’s up to us and I will be wearing mine at outpatients appointments and if on a mixed ward for the foreseeable.
You are not remotely paranoid! That level of ignorance in a nurse is quite disturbing..
I know. She was older woman and very full of herself - lives just down the road from me we established. She asked me what I was getting IV immunoglobulins for and I told her and she had clearly never heard of either Sjögren’s or systemic sclerosis nor knew what being on highest dose Mycophenolate involves. I guess she’s a neurology nurse at end of the day and it did at least remind me that I’m not safe anywhere apart from in the privacy of home. X
OldTed60, you are NOT being paranoid... I feel exactly the same as you and I am not taking any chances. It really frustrates me when people react as that nurse did, and the last thing that any of us need is to be stressed out by it. Each to his own. Take care, Kx
Thank-you. I do have a feeling these days that there’s an expectation that we patients are supposed to be extra vigilant in order to protect the NHS but the same consideration is not being matched for to us clinically extremely vulnerable people.
If I do succumb to Covid I’m almost certain it will be from an NHS source because most of my outings are to attend medical appointments of one sort or another these days. X
You are quite right to be concerned. I would certainly turn up wearing a mask. If they don't like it tough on them and we'll done you protectinnbg yourself.
It's so stressful isn't it. Especially as it's a situation we can't control. I just wear my FFP3 mask whilst inside and make sure I sanitise my hands on my way out of the building. I've found trying to focus only on my actions helpful, because we can't change other people's - they're gonna do what they're gonna do 🤷 But you wearing a mask will reduce the risk partially and that's all we can do at this stage.
Hi Shiela_G, I would wear a mask. It's your life and your are the one who will suffer from catching covid. So please don't follow the rules that inform us that we are safe. Covid is still very much out there, still doing harm.
I still wear my.mask. If you feel uncomfortable not wearing it then carry on wearing it. It's your choice.
I had a face to face appointment at my hospital this week and although they're dropping the necessity to wear masks in the waiting room or walking into and around the building, there is still a requirement to wear masks when undertaking your consultation/treatment. Of course there is nothing to stop you wearing your mask at all times if it helps you feel safer.
It's the same in our local hospital, but I'm not so sure that St Richard's in Chichester is that way. My daughter in law is a nurse there, and she no longer wears a mask at work, and I don't think that's optional. Backwards step? I think so. 😒 Take care, there is nowt we can do about rules not of our making. Kx
Madness I still only have phone calls for the same reason ! Manage to have blds done by a nurse at GP'S who is vulnerable and still wears a mask and viser, there is news now 9f a new variant which is more severe and you can catch much easier , you wait in a month they will be saying we should wear again , government and clinicians useless
I had a breast screening last year and was totally shocked that people were wandering about the hospital corridors, and not wearing masks. Completely insane. I stayed in for 2 years because of Covid [CEV], but am now venturing out again. If I am travelling by train I wear a 5 layer filter mask, so I don’t completely freak out. Me and about 3 other people per train are mask wearers. My only recommendation is to get a really good mask to allay your fears. You really do have to look after yourself..
Just remembered… I had my bloods done earlier this week at my GP Surgery; the nurse was not wearing one!
The hospitals in my area have just re-introduced mask wearing after a couple of weeks of relaxation. The numbers are going up. You are being sensible to reduce your exposure to the minumum (and wear your own mask at least FFP2 when you go for your blood test).
I have even pointed out to health professionals that they can form their eleastic strings into a figure of eight to make their mask fit better - it often slips down otherwise if you have a narrow face.
You're being sensible & protecting yourself which isn't crazy! Unfortunately were in a heal & protect thyself situation which really makes me mad! Thankfully I have my blood tests done at my Doctor's Surgery & they're still all wearing masks! I only have to have my blood tests done 2monthly now too, which is a relief to my one vein they can get it from!! For some reason my April blood results were not on their system though when I went for June's blood test so rang Rheumatology & they have them?? My Doctors Surgery were going to chase them but when I rang most of the Reception staff have gone down with Covid again, 2nd time since April, so it's not over yet & numbers are rising! Think we'll see that after Glastonbury Festival too!!!???
Timely post. I was taken by complete surprise on Tuesday when I had first infusion of Rituximab and found most staff in Biologics Day Centre with no mask. I was invited to take my mask off but politely declined and will continue to wear a mask to keep me as safe as possible. Felt very vulnerable. Wish patients had been prewarned of change of policy. BG
Hi , I went for my infusion today , I still wore my mask and so did the nurses . Other patients were not wearing one . I still feel quite worried and don’t want to chance it .
I went to my surgery for a blood test yesterday and no one was wearing a mask. I still wore mine.
Don’t be so hard on yourself I still wear my mask everywhere! Freaks me too 😳 we have a good reason to be ! Do what’s right for you wear a mask I would xx
Too much of "I'm all right Jack" around for my liking. Wearing a mask is nobody's favourite thing, but it's simple and effective and is a really important outward gesture when you're dealing with immuno-compromised patients.
It's been widely accepted since early on in the pandemic that masks help protect others (not necessarily the wearer) and I'm genuinely bemused at the number of people who are basically advertising to the world that they care about nobody but themselves.
I would definitely give a bit of feedback about this, regardless of whether you decide to attend your appointment in person.
I couldn't have put it better myself. I will certainly let them know that I am not happy. We can choose whether or not we go in a supermarket or a restaurant or bus etc but we can't choose whether or not we go to mour clinic or have our bloods taken. I feel like a lamb to the slaughter. That might sound dramatic but it is how I feel. I like to be in control and it has been taken away from me.
I was in the same position. I wore a mask and asked myclinician to do the same. She agreed. If she hadn't I intended to open the door and move the chair 2 metres away.
I had to visit the ED with my son and although not mandatory they were asking people if they’d like a mask as they entered. I’d say at least half of people patients and staff were wearing them. We wore them, but I still wear mine when popping to the shops. My choice.
All you can do is wear your mask and wear gloves if you want
I agree with you wearing your mask. I think if you asked your rheumy to wear a mask as you have been careful and are doing everything u can to avoid it, your rheumy would understand and wear it?
No wonder the covid is going up yet again as it's too relaxed and it makes me very edgy but I still and will continue to wear my mask no matter what !!!!!!
Just wear one anyway. Where I live, not many people are wearing them but I do regardless. If you feel safer with one on just wear it. I doubt you will be the only one. Good Luck.
Just wear a good N95 mask that fits well. No one in Australia wears a mask anymore accept me lol
At our hospital we are still wearing masks for patients attending certain clinics and rheumatology is one of those clinics. I work as a registered nurse in ophthalmology outpatients and I still have to wear my mask. Good luck with your appointment.,
I think you are being prudent, I have multiple health issues, and here in Belgium masks are still required in health facilities, I also wear masks in shops. The BA5 variant is increasing rapidly and although hospitalisation rate is staying low, I understand the infection is still unpleasant. Stay prudent.
The use of masks has been stopped as its deemed unnecessary, though this comes from politicians it is backed up "allegedly", by medical professionals. Ok so we've seen far to much of politicians dictating what medical advice professionals give us, it is mostly based on sound medical expertise. We live in very confusing and contradictory times, I take it you've been vaccinated and you are in no dought that it protects people from the worst effects of covid. If this is the case then they are right in saying masks are unnecessary.
We've been through years of torment and fear. Many have died from this terrible virus many more have, and are still suffering from the fear of it, tragically even more from the measures put in place to protect us from it.
I understand your concern in having face to face meetings, but at some point we have to put this behind us and start living again.
"One", of the best defences against covid along with many other ills is looking after our physical and mental health. Getting fresh air, exercise, eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of filtered water.
It is not compulsory or a legal requirement to wear masks, however, you have the freedom of choice No one has said you can’t wear a mask, I still wear a mask when in crowded public places because that’s my choice.
I would ask the nurse/doctor if they could wear a mask.I have an appointment with ophthalmologist on Tuesday and I shall walk out if they refuse. Nothing worse than a hospital acquired infection
I had Covid twice last year, three jabs but still caught it again this year. despite double masked, clean one each time, washing hands, kept away from crowds.
Two weeks before Easter this year I fell ill with Covid again. I was really, really poorly with added excruciating pain and basically stayed on settee, not eating or moving at all for 5 days. Too ill to watch tv or go upstairs to bed. I was still ill Easter Sunday. I tested positive for 10 days but took over a month to recover.
So I think it's only fair that they wear a mask to help prevent me from catching it.
When I hear people say it's something we have to live with, just like flu, I boil.
Can't remember last time I actually had flu, about nine years ago I think - it was a nasty bout but was nothing compared to the Covid a couple of months ago.
Gosh that's awful. Obviously I agree with you. The numbers are getting larger each day. If covid gets really bad again the NHS will suffer and they will be understaffed again. I don't understand them wanting to take that risk.
just another rant - so removing compulsory mask wearing especially from hospital/gp settings causes many folk mental stress and valid concerns.
Mask wearing and focussing on hospital staff (including nurses) to wash their hands properly, using elbows or wrists to turn taps off etc , just as they used to many, many years ago, has helped prevent other awful hospital acquired infections too.
As to being told to put it behind us, live with it, is surely the wrong way of looking at it? If we become complacent we stop protecting others.
Taking personal responsibility to prevent infections should be mandatory and at forefront of their thinking. Let's not go backwards.
Its not just a 'little bout of flu' that these selfish politicians are putting out, it's far worse. It's been about 9 years since I had flu and that was because NICE or whoever was responsible? predicted the wrong vaccine.
I agree on many of your points. In your last paragraph you mentioned the time the wrong vaccine was given to people. For once the government wasn't to blame. The yearly flu vaccine is based on the 3 most likely strains to hit in that year. Sometimes the flu viruses mutate or other viruses appear and this is what happened. The laboratories were caught off guard. No-ones fault really.
I still use one indoors in health settings, with a carbon filter inserted. One was still required last time I checked, in all health settings in Scotland. Hope you sort it out to your own comfort zone. 🌸
I’m sure you can still wear a mask if you choose to 🙂
I continue to wear a mask at all hospital and GP appointments and when I go to the supermarket although not everyone else does. It was only half way through getting my bloods done last week that I realised the phlebotomist wasn’t wearing a mask! I think I’ve just got used to seeing people around in work/supermarket not wearing them so it didn’t seem strange. However despite the people in healthcare settings not wearing masks I actually caught covid from my husband who had had to attend a conference for work and caught it there. I am clinically extremely vulnerable and abided by all the shielding advice and continue to be cautious but in the end even if I hadn’t poked my nose out of the door for 2 years I would still have got it via my husband!