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Face Mask rules at GP Surgery

Jurph
Jurph Member Posts: 354 Pioneering
Good Afternoon everyone.

I'm struggling to help my Mum access her GP surgery. She cannot wear a face mask or face shield due to psychological distress caused by an attack in her childhood. We got her a sunflower lanyard and hasn't had a single issue anywhere else (the local hospital accepted her exemption).

She has serious medical issues and is steroid dependent meaning trips to the GP is necessary. She only goes out to get food shop/pharmacy. Her husband has Leukaemia and no immunity so she's super careful.

After a consultation with a GP on the phone, he asked for urgent blood tests (a previous one was cancelled due to the tube shortage) however, the GP surgery is a nightmare.

They insist on face coverings "even if you're exempt" which I thought was illegal? They refused to book her in because the nurse was vulnerable and wouldn't treat a patient who was maskless. She can't cope with raised adrenaline levels due to her medical issues so when she's confronted at the door, she shakes and can't cope with confrontation. The receptionist shouts from the desk for her to wait outside, then brings out a mask. Every visit is the same and all if this is on her notes.

I finally booked her in and went with her but I feel I shouldn't have to. I feel like she's being discriminated against and isn't receiving proper medical care. What can I do?
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Comments

  • TopB79
    TopB79 Member Posts: 7 Listener
    Good Lord that’s awful. I’m disabled myself now and I actually suffer from shaking/confronting people !😱….I definitely do think that is illegal but I’d personally google that tbf. Hope u and ur Mum are ok. There is help out there. 
  • TheAlien
    TheAlien Member Posts: 42 Courageous
    I'm so sorry.

    I think you need to complain, in writing, to the practice manager.  Every gp practice should have one.  State that your mum is exempt and tell them you are not happy with the attitude of the staff there, especially the attitude of the receptionist.

    Good luck.
  • MarkM88
    MarkM88 Member Posts: 1,803 Pioneering
    Is there more than one nurse? 

    I can understand that nurse wanting to protect herself, she has just as much right as your mum does. 

    However, I don’t believe it’s illegal, because it was only ever guidance wasn’t it? Therefore each business/organisation etc can have their own guidance. 
  • Jurph
    Jurph Member Posts: 354 Pioneering
    MarkN88 said:
    Is there more than one nurse? 

    I can understand that nurse wanting to protect herself, she has just as much right as your mum does. 

    However, I don’t believe it’s illegal, because it was only ever guidance wasn’t it? Therefore each business/organisation etc can have their own guidance. 
    What if that guidance denies my Mum medical care?
  • Jurph
    Jurph Member Posts: 354 Pioneering
    TheAlien said:
    I'm so sorry.

    I think you need to complain, in writing, to the practice manager.  Every gp practice should have one.  State that your mum is exempt and tell them you are not happy with the attitude of the staff there, especially the attitude of the receptionist.

    Good luck.
    Thank you.

    They claim there's no exception. Even the sign outside says you must wear one even if exempt.
  • Jurph
    Jurph Member Posts: 354 Pioneering
    Here's the sign on the door
  • MarkM88
    MarkM88 Member Posts: 1,803 Pioneering
    Jurph said:
    What if that guidance denies my Mum medical care?
    I’m not saying it’s the right way to go, however if a healthcare professional is vulnerable too they have every right to protect themselves and still work just like everyone else. 

    That’s why I asked if there was another nurse. 

    Only other thing ai can suggest is officially complaining to the practice manager. 
  • Jurph
    Jurph Member Posts: 354 Pioneering
    MarkN88 said:
    Jurph said:
    What if that guidance denies my Mum medical care?
    I’m not saying it’s the right way to go, however if a healthcare professional is vulnerable too they have every right to protect themselves and still work just like everyone else. 

    That’s why I asked if there was another nurse. 

    Only other thing ai can suggest is officially complaining to the practice manager. 
    Thank you. Yes, there was another nurse but it took a further 2 weeks to get an appointment.
  • MarkM88
    MarkM88 Member Posts: 1,803 Pioneering
    I would imagine that, that might be the best option, because not only do they have a duty of care for their patients but they also do for their staff too. 

    I would still issue a complaint through the practice manager too. 

    I know they have said previously that if patients refuse ti wear masks or can’t wear them then they should aim to deal with the patient remotely if they can and clinically feasible. However, bloods obviously can’t be done over the telephone/internet, so your mum is going to have to be seen, they need to understand that. 
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,474 Disability Gamechanger
    Mask wearing is no longer compulsory other than in a few specific settings. Thus this is solely a policy of the practice. Any blanket policy us likely to be illegal and challengeable under EA10 as they are both fettering their discretion by having no exceptions and clearly disproportionately impacting people most likely to be in a protected group i.e. disabled people. 

    Two choices in practice:

    1 - go talk to them; point out the above and see what can be negotiated. I can understand their hesitancy of they have a vulnerable staff member but the better approach would surely be to have risk assessments for each case and locum cover where contact was deemed not appropriate. 

    2 - issue s letter before action and perhaps involve one of the law firms who love stuff like this such as Leigh Day or Stephenson.
  • Sandy_123
    Sandy_123 Member Posts: 1,981 Pioneering
    I have that problem too with my practice and unless the mask on you can't get in the door. Unike your mom tho I can just put it on and take it straight off after. As others have said it's best to speak to the practice manager. 
  • woodbine
    woodbine Community Co-Production Group Posts: 5,285 Disability Gamechanger
    I am a person with epilepsy not an epileptic, my illness doesn't define me.
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,474 Disability Gamechanger

    Even if it were, the key sentence in that article would be

    “Patients in all care areas should still be encouraged and supported to wear a face mask, providing it is tolerated and is not detrimental to their medical or care needs.”

    The key here is that you legally cannot have a blanket policy; current guidance refers to what I refer to above i.e. the need for a risk assessment. 

  • Jurph
    Jurph Member Posts: 354 Pioneering

    Even if it were, the key sentence in that article would be

    “Patients in all care areas should still be encouraged and supported to wear a face mask, providing it is tolerated and is not detrimental to their medical or care needs.”

    The key here is that you legally cannot have a blanket policy; current guidance refers to what I refer to above i.e. the need for a risk assessment. 

    Thank you. I saw the Government guidance which still says "wear a mask unless exempt" - something we've always known. I just don't know how the GP can go against that.
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,474 Disability Gamechanger
    Ultimately they only can if people don’t challenge it.
  • lisathomas50
    lisathomas50 Posts: 4,592 Disability Gamechanger
    In wales we still have to wear masks in alot of places including hospitals and gp surgery's 
  • lisathomas50
    lisathomas50 Posts: 4,592 Disability Gamechanger
    I can understand people who have been double jabbed are getting corona  virus  people just want to feel safexi don't have to wear one  but I always do my sister in law and brother have it my brother is 56 and my sister in law 46 both very poorly 
  • MarkM88
    MarkM88 Member Posts: 1,803 Pioneering
    In wales we still have to wear masks in alot of places including hospitals and gp surgery's 
    Yes, but exceptions still apply. 
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 23,781 Disability Gamechanger
    MarkN88 said:
    In wales we still have to wear masks in alot of places including hospitals and gp surgery's 
    Yes, but exceptions still apply. 

    Yes indeed they do. I was in Wales at the beginning of September visiting family and friends and my daughter and myself are both exempt, wearing the lanyard there were no problems.
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,474 Disability Gamechanger
    In wales we still have to wear masks in alot of places including hospitals and gp surgery's 
    Including indoors on the concourse at football stadia, Had 2 experiences so far and there must be an awful lot of exemptions as I would estimate mask wearing was less than 5%.
  • lisathomas50
    lisathomas50 Posts: 4,592 Disability Gamechanger
    @MarkN88 my drs surgery wether your exempt or not you still have to have a face mask and the hospital I go to 
  • MarkM88
    MarkM88 Member Posts: 1,803 Pioneering
    @MarkN88 my drs surgery wether your exempt or not you still have to have a face mask and the hospital I go to 
    Well I’d love to know how they would respond if they refused to treat someone because they are excempt and they die. 
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,474 Disability Gamechanger
    Already happened I believe. 

    The reality is that these things are nuanced and difficult whereas people want them to be straightforward and black and white. 
  • Cress
    Cress Member Posts: 937 Pioneering
    edited October 3
    In that particular incidence I’d say for your mums sake and that of her husband could she not tolerate the masks for the time it takes to get blood tests?
    I know you say she suffers anxiety wearing the mask but she may possibly be just as anxious about not getting the tests she needs.
    I can understand problems if one had to wear masks for long periods, but is it really that traumatic for someone to wear one for ten minutes or so?
    genuine question. I’m prepared to be shot down… :)

    I felt so sorry for my dentist, who obviously had to work in such close proximity to patients not wearing masks and going home to her young daughter each day.

  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,474 Disability Gamechanger
    Hopefully no-one will shoot you down @Cress. One of the things which happens with anxiety is that when it’s a for,Al diagnosis people see anything which doesn’t manage your anxiety down to zero as a failure and an insult or a lack of understanding whereas most of the world understands that you cannot manage anxiety down to zero. People often see two binary choices as exacerbating their anxiety by both existing but sometimes need reminding that actually making one of those choices will immediately reduce that doubled anxiety. 

    I would certainly accept that 10 minutes in a mask could for many people not be a good thing. However, it is also not a life ending thing and as you say it is the best of the choices available. The reality is that there is no-one alive who exists without some level of anxiety and whilst some is unimaginably worse than others the solution remains the same. Accept that, like risk, it can’t be managed down to zero. Make the best decision.

    Over the years I’ve had many clients who couldn’t possibly ever attend an appeal hearing because of their health conditions. Never, ever. I almost never accept this as a rep. If you won’t attend your hearing then the value I add through my representation is reduced in some cases by such an amount so as to make it not worth my while or yours for me to attend. Your non-attendance cannot be redeemed by my attendance. Thus a winnable case which ought to win will instantly transform into a winnable case that likely will be lost. I am fairly forceful and very clear-headed about presenting the above. I make no allowances for anxiety and it’s really interesting what happens when you do that. I have literally had no client ever refuse to attend with me. Not one. 

    Ultimately here there is a choice to be made. Making that choice will actually introduce some anxiety but it’s important to remember that that will be temporary. Overall anxiety will reduce.
  • lisathomas50
    lisathomas50 Posts: 4,592 Disability Gamechanger
    I wear my mask to protect others I couldn't live with myself if I wasn't wearing a mask and I passed corona virus onto someone else 

    Teachers and schools complained that masks should be still worn in schools the consequences now is thst schools are haveing to close becsuse staff and children have corona virus my sister in law is a teaching assistant and tested positive for corona virus on Monday  and is poorly my brother tested positive on Wednesday and is asthmatic 

    I don't  have to wear a mask but I do  and I  think I always will 
  • Adrian_Scope
    Adrian_Scope Posts: 8,078

    Scope community team

    edited October 4
    I shouldn't have to, but I feel the need to point out that for some people even 10 minutes in a mask can be intolerable for a number of reasons. I understand the logic of many of the solutions offered, but anxiety isn't something that can always be argued away by logic.
    Over the years I’ve had many clients who couldn’t possibly ever attend an appeal hearing because of their health conditions. Never, ever. I almost never accept this as a rep. If you won’t attend your hearing then the value I add through my representation is reduced in some cases by such an amount so as to make it not worth my while or yours for me to attend. Your non-attendance cannot be redeemed by my attendance. Thus a winnable case which ought to win will instantly transform into a winnable case that likely will be lost. I am fairly forceful and very clear-headed about presenting the above. I make no allowances for anxiety and it’s really interesting what happens when you do that. I have literally had no client ever refuse to attend with me. Not one. 
    Equally, there are those whose anxiety impacts them in ways that mean they couldn't reach out for a rep in the first place, let alone attend a tribunal. I've definitely known many people that fall within this category too. 
    Community Manager
    Scope

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  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,474 Disability Gamechanger
    Surprised you feel the need to comment @Adrian_Scope. Disappointed you have done so publicly but even more so that you have chosen to selectively quote from a post which addressed your concerns head on. Once again suggests the culture here of attacking expertise for bringing forth hard truths is supported from the top.

    mikehughescq said:
    I would certainly accept that 10 minutes in a mask could for many people not be a good thing. However, it is also not a life ending thing…
    Whilst I didn’t use the word “intolerable” I think I was clear enough above in distinguishing myself from @Cress saying they didn’t see why 10 minutes would be traumatic. 

    I have also nowhere argued that anxiety can be “argued away by logic”. Indeed I specifically say 
    “… you cannot manage anxiety down to zero. 
    I absolutely agree that anxiety rules significant numbers out from asking for advice or representation in the first place but then talking about tribunals wasn’t really what this was about. It was about being faced with a binary choice. An anxious person sees only binary choices and sees both as being as bad as each other when in fact managing anxiety is about challenging that conclusion. My example was to show that it could be done and can consistently produce results. 

    In this instance I think there are two things at play. A GP surgery with an understandable but likely indefensible position which will stay in place until it is challenged and a patient who clearly isn’t going to wear a mask. Obvious solutions would be a locum; a letter before action; a bit of media action and so on. Nothing is binary… except binary.
  • Adrian_Scope
    Adrian_Scope Posts: 8,078

    Scope community team

    Sorry if my post was misleading @mikehughescq or that you felt it was attacking expertise. That certainly wasn't my intention.

    None of my post was really directed at you, nor anyone specifically, although I can see why you may have thought so, given I quoted you later on. It seems I should have found a better way to separate my points and explain myself.

    I was initially responding to how the thread had changed from being generally supportive and solution-focused, to something that seemed less so. Beyond that, my intention was to provide a broader understanding of anxiety and expand upon what you've said, not attack it. I was hoping to highlight to others that unfortunately not everyone can just challenge it and push through, as anxiety can impact people in different ways.

    I completely understood your point regarding binary choices and challenging them. From my own experience of working through a bad period of anxiety, this is what personally helped me through.

    I hope that makes more sense!
    Community Manager
    Scope

    Concerned about another member's safety or wellbeing? Flag your concerns with us.
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,474 Disability Gamechanger
  • janer1967
    janer1967 Member Posts: 12,273 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi sorry to join in late @Jurph

    Could the practice not arrange for the community team to come and take the blood tests at home for your mum as she is unable to attend the surgery due to their policy 

    I have in the past had this done at home when I was housebound 
    Here to help with my experience in hunan resources and employment rights 
  • Jurph
    Jurph Member Posts: 354 Pioneering
    janer1967 said:
    Hi sorry to join in late @Jurph

    Could the practice not arrange for the community team to come and take the blood tests at home for your mum as she is unable to attend the surgery due to their policy 

    I have in the past had this done at home when I was housebound 
    I'll ask! Thank you
  • Jurph
    Jurph Member Posts: 354 Pioneering
    I really don't want to turn this post in to a debate about whether you should be wearing a mask.

    If she could, she would but she can't. Not even "for 10 minutes". You wouldn't ask a wheelchair user to stand up for 10 minutes while they received medical treatment. I don't see how this is different.

    I thought I was clear that her medical conditions prevent her wearing a face covering and wasn't simply anxiety related. 

    Thanks @Adrian_Scope for your understanding.


  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,474 Disability Gamechanger
    Jurph said:
    You wouldn't ask a wheelchair user to stand up for 10 minutes while they received medical treatment. I don't see how this is different.

    Rather based on the assumption that no wheelchair user could do that whereas I know plenty who could. 

    In reality of course it’s not different at all. They are exercising a likely illegal blanket policy but on the other hand there’s a whole of host of obvious and unexplored responses which are clearly far better than just claiming they’re being unreasonable. 
  • chiarieds
    chiarieds Community Co-Production Group Posts: 10,531 Disability Gamechanger
    edited October 9
    I'm a bit lost off with your GP's practise to be honest. Where a patient has understandable difficulties with wearing a mask, if this is highlighted beforehand, surely a nurse could then use PPE?
    When I've visited my dentist, altho I'm able to wear a mask in going in, this therefore has to be removed prior to examining my mouth/giving treatment, & the dentist & her assistant put on PPE.
    When I had to visit hospital due to an oral concern & then having a biopsy, the same occurred....
  • PENNYB_1971
    PENNYB_1971 Member Posts: 8 Listener
    The same thing happened to me a couple weeks back.  I had to go for bloods done and an ECG and blood pressure.  I have severe Asthma and other health problems  never have problems with the hospital or dentist etc  I have a lanyard which I was recommended by doctors   told doctor on phone can't wear a mask  was told it doesn't matter I don't have to  then receptionist wouldn't let me in surgery  
  • TheAlien
    TheAlien Member Posts: 42 Courageous
    Just a thought..... but would she be able to wear a clear plastic face visor, the sort that you wear on your head, but covers your face?

    That way she isn't wearing a mask as such, but still has a covering in place.
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,474 Disability Gamechanger
    The evidence base for visors is that they are of negligible use. 

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