New transparent face masks, made in Dumfries and Galloway Scotland, have been approved for use in health and social care settings.
The new transparent masks, which feature a clear front panel to enable lip reading, will make communication easier and help reduce the challenges the pandemic has created for those with communication needs.
NHS National Services Scotland began distributing the masks to Health Boards in November, and they will be in use from early December onwards.
The product has been designed and made by Scottish PPE supplier, Alpha Solway, based in Dumfries and Galloway, and is the result of close collaboration with NHS National Services Scotland.
Cabinet Secretary for Health, Humza Yousaf said:
“Although face masks are essential to reduce the spread of coronavirus, it can cause difficulties for people who rely on lip reading, or have other communication needs.
“Patients and staff have rightly been calling for an alternative to the usual surgical face masks in clinical settings, so I am pleased NHS Scotland is rolling out these new, innovative transparent masks.
“These masks mean staff and patients can communicate clearly while staying safe.
“It is also great news that the masks are being made right here in Scotland. Businesses across Scotland worked hard to set up a new Scottish PPE supply chain at the start of the pandemic.
“This was an important part of our response to the coronavirus and this new and innovative product illustrates the long term benefits a domestic PPE supply chain can bring.”
Mary Morgan, Chief Executive for National Service Scotland said:
“Patient care is of the utmost priority and clear communications is critical to delivering the best possible experience for patients. Our procurement team have been working hard to distribute transparent masks to health boards across Scotland in time for December. This is a key step in improving communications with patients and staff as we continue through the pandemic.”
South Scotland SNP MSP Emma Harper has welcomed that new transparent face masks, made in Dumfries by Alpha Solway, have been approved for use in health and social care settings across Scotland.
The new transparent masks, which feature a clear front panel to enable lip reading, make communication easier and help reduce the challenges the pandemic has created for those with communication needs.
Just in October this year, Ms Harper visited Alpha Solway to meet with the Managing Director, Steven Binnie, and Production Manager, Kevin Proudfoot. The South Scotland MSP has praised the company for what she describes as their “efficient and effective” response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
During the visit, Ms Harper was given a tour of the Alpha Solway site in Lochside where the majority of their mask production currently takes place. She then went onto visit the Alpha Solway site which is currently being constructed at Heathhall.
Commenting, Ms Harper said:
“It is fantastic to see that Alpha Solway’s clear face masks have been approved for use in health and social care settings across the whole of Scotland.
“I visited Alpha Solway just in October this year when I met with the Managing Director, Steve Binnie, and Production Manager, Kevin Proudfoot. I know how hard the team have been working to ensure Scotland has the PPE we require, and it is down to this hard work, in partnership with NHS Scotland, that these masks have now been approved for use.
“Although face masks are essential to reduce the spread of covid-19, it can cause difficulties for people who rely on lip reading, or have other communication needs. These masks mean staff and patients can communicate clearly while staying safe.
“I thank all of the leadership and staff at Alpha Solway and I welcome that the Scottish Government has taken steps to ensure that our PPE, and now face masks which promote accessibility, are being produced right here in Scotland.”
Ann Ferguson , Chairwoman of Dumfries & Galloway Hard of Hearing Group has welcomed this much needed development;
“Many people in health and social care settings, especially older people, have some degree of hearing loss and rely, almost automatically, on lip reading in order to hear. We now need to see these masks being used in a wide range of settings including in schools and other public facing services. “These transparent face masks will enable people with hearing loss to understand what is being said , to make their own decisions and to feel part of society again.”
NHS Scotland engaged with several Scottish-based companies to produce a solution to the challenges faced by those with communications needs due to increased use of surgical masks in clinical settings. As part of this, NHS Scotland worked with Alpha Solway, a Dumfriesshire-based company, to develop a transparent face mask.
The mask has been developed in accordance with the transparent face mask specification originally published on 1 April 2021. It features a clear anti-fog front panel, which has been positioned to prevent reflection and make lip reading easier and can be used where a Type IIR surgical face mask should be worn.
NHS National Services Scotland has placed an initial order for 2.3 million masks, and has already issued about 10% of these to Health Boards for use. Health Boards have been asked to prioritise using the masks with those patients and staff who have hearing issues or other communication needs.