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Prime Minister sparks fury as he goes maskless during hospital visit

Roar writer Danielle Jones on the fiery reactions to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s maskless visit to Northumbria NHS Trust.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was photographed greeting NHS staff while not wearing a mask during a visit to Hexham General Hospital, Northumbria, yesterday.

Mr Johnson was pictured wearing a face covering in clinical areas including wards but without one while walking through the corridors. Furthermore, photos from the Northumbria NHS Trust Hospital Twitter page show the Prime Minister greeting and “elbow bumping” staff without a mask on.

Hexham General, one of the constituent hospitals of the Northumbria Trust that Johnson visited, requires anyone not exempt to wear a mask for the full duration of their visit as all NHS hospitals do. This includes in public corridors so that staff and vulnerable patients travelling within the corridors are protected. The Prime Minister’s visit comes after House of Commons’ authorities cancelled non-essential events at Parliament due to a rising, though unknown, number of Covid-19 cases.

The photos sparked outrage from residents of Northumbria and NHS workers alike. Many tweeted photos of Hexham General’s aforementioned requirements for patients and visitors. Others pointed out that Mr Johnson’s wife, Carrie Johnson, is currently pregnant with the couple’s second child and is therefore more vulnerable should she contract Coronavirus.

Many healthcare professionals stated that the hospital management should have insisted that the Prime Minister wear a mask both to protect staff and to set an example to a nation experiencing a rise in Coronavirus cases and deaths. Several Twitter users have claimed that nepotism is behind the hospital protecting Johnson by only sharing pictures of him with a mask on as Sir James Mackey, CEO of the Northumbria NHS Trust, was knighted in 2019, Johnson’s first year as Prime Minister.

Several healthcare professionals pointed out how disheartening it was to see Mr Johnson in a healthcare setting without a mask, especially given the Prime Minister was previously hospitalised with Covid-19 and was given intensive care. Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab, defended the Prime Minister, saying he followed “all the protocols and procedures” during the visit. However, Raab’s statement directly contradicts guidance on mask wearing and social distancing followed by the NHS.

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