National rules on mask-wearing in GP surgeries and hospitals have largely been scrapped under new guidance in England, but some NHS trusts are insisting that patients keep wearing masks.
The National Health Service is the umbrella term for the publicly funded health care systems of the United Kingdom.
Health chiefs Professor Stephen Powis National Medical Director and Duncan Burton Deputy Chief Nursing Officer for England wrote to NHS Trusts about revised infection control measures for NHS settings.
They wrote that any IPC (infection prevention and control) measures beyond those contained in those publications is "a matter for local discretion."
Hospitals have also been told they should start reverting to their own pre-pandemic IPC policies while acknowledging it may involve a period of transition.
"Health and care staff should continue to wear facemasks as part of personal protective equipment required for transmission-based precautions when working in COVID-19/respiratory care pathways, and when clinically caring for suspected/confirmed COVID-19 patients," the letter read.
"All other inpatients are not necessarily required to wear a facemask unless this is a personal preference," it added.
"Visitors and individuals accompanying patients to outpatient appointments or the emergency department are not routinely required to wear a facemask unless this is a personal preference," added the health chiefs.
Hospitals in England have now begun issuing guidance but some are saying they intend to keep insisting on people wearing masks.
Croydon Health Services NHS Trust is also advising staff to still wear masks in clinical areas, but not in non-clinical including offices and corridors areas unless specifically required.
From July 2021, England opened up earlier than other comparable countries and has been relatively restriction-free since. Masks are no longer legally required in most public spaces.
In February, England scrapped its last remaining COVID-19 rule ie. the need for infected people to isolate.