Covid-19: Swindon hospital boss wants return of mandatory face masks

A hospital boss has said reinstating measures such as face masks would help to alleviate pressure on the NHS.

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Chief executive of Great Western Hospital (GWH), Swindon, Kevin McNamara, said he supported masks being made mandatory in public spaces again.

He said 99% of beds are occupied at GWH and numbers are moving in the wrong direction as winter approaches.

"Masks are something I would encourage to be used personally and adopted nationally," he said.

The south west currently has the top 10 highest case rates in England with a sharp rise in figures partially attributed to 43,000 people wrongly being told they had tested negative due to errors at a private laboratory.

Mr McNamara said the number of Covid patients was comparable and at times had exceeded what was seen last November during lockdown.

"That's a real worry as we go into winter," he said. "The science has proven that masks work and we've seen the limit of community transmission when we were being really mindful and conscious about our interactions with other people."

He said there were 62 Covid patients in the hospital, up from 49 last week and the number of patients in intensive care had doubled to eight in a week, with the majority of them unvaccinated.

Deborah Lee, chief executive of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said they were "more or less operating a one in, one out policy".