From today it is mandatory for hospital staff in England to wear face masks and patients and visitors to wear face coverings, but the BMA says more  clarity is needed from the Government.

It said that with the supply of PPE to the NHS frontline having been a major issue throughout this pandemic, to place this burden on hospitals without providing additional resources is quite frankly unacceptable.

The BMA has previously called for the Government to also ensure that face coverings are made readily available and accessible to the public as proper support needs to implemented on the ground so that healthcare settings can be safe places for patients and staff alike.

Will mandatory face covering extend to GP practices?

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: "It is imperative that we do all we can to prevent the spread of infection in healthcare settings, so that patients and visitors can attend hospital and GP practices without fear of contamination. The wearing of masks by staff and face coverings by the public will be key to enabling this.

"It is clear though that the Government has failed to properly plan for these changes which are now in effect and have left providers of NHS services confused and unprepared for how this will be implemented on the frontline.

He said that it was still unclear as to whether mandatory face coverings will extend to patients attending GP practices and if so, additional supplies of masks should also be extended to GP practices.

"Additionally, if patients or visitors arrive at hospital without a face covering, it is not appropriate that hospitals are expected to provide surgical masks for the public, as per the new guidance, nor have hospitals been provided with their own stock of face coverings," he said.