10 June 2022

New information on the availability of transparent face masks increases access to safe products for speech and language therapists and our clients.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020, the RCSLT has been campaigning for measures to reduce the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2, including the introduction of transparent face masks, as we have been concerned of the communication challenges posed.

In the UK there are up to 14 million people living with communication difficulties. These difficulties present a challenge in interacting with others and accessing health and social care, when opaque masks are used. The use of transparent face masks could also benefit speech and language therapists’ interactions, with clients of all ages, who have speech, language and communication difficulties.

Whilst the wearing of face masks is being relaxed across some settings in which SLTs work, where masks are still required, the introduction of transparent face masks remains a priority.

What’s new?

Since transparent face masks were approved for pilot in January, the RCSLT can update members on some developments.

The list of products which are compliant with the UK government’s transparent mask technical specification has increased. Below is the list of suppliers with compliant products correct at the date of writing this. This page will be uploaded as new information is published.

Supplier Contact person E-mail
Britannia Safety Ltd (Smile Shield) Chris Endicott chris@britannialtd.co.uk
C and P Medical Trading Ltd (Smile Shield) Peter Shaw petershaw@c-pmedical.com
Creative Activity (Smile Shield) Edward McMullan edward@creative-activity.co.uk
Opulent Collection Ltd (Smile Shield) Irfat Chowdhury info@opulentcollection.co.uk
Scientific Laboratory Supplies Ltd (Smile Shield) Alison Hill slstender@scientific-labs.com
Solar Medical and Chemical (Smile Shield) Rebecca Jordan becky@solarmedchem.co.uk
Springfield Papers Ltd (Smile Shield) Roland Coldrick roland@springfieldpapers.com
Contechs Consulting Ltd (Contechs) Andy Marsh amarsh@contechs.co.uk
Globus (shetland) ltd (Alpha Solway Haika-MXC) Mark Websper mark.websper@globus.co.uk

At present the compliant transparent face masks are equivalent to a fluid-resistant Type IIR surgical mask. They cannot be used to replace FFP2 or FFP3, or be used where care is being provided in poorly ventilated spaces, or with service users with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

In England

In England the Department of Health and Social Care is not progressing with its transparent face mask “pilot” as they previously planned.

Instead, if you want to obtain one of the transparent face masks that are compliant with the UK government’s transparent mask technical specification, personal protective equipment (PPE) teams are advised to buy this direct from the supplier. RCSLT members can ask their PPE leads to source these for them and members working in independent practice are advised to contact the suppliers directly (see list above).

In Scotland

Members in Scotland can access the transparent face mask via their health board. Health boards have been asked to prioritise the masks locally according to the priority list of individuals in the SBAR, which the RCSLT helped NHS Scotland to write.

Feedback from our members in Scotland earlier this year indicate that each health board is approaching the rollout slightly differently, however most areas are reporting speech and language therapy services have played an integral role in ensuring access for those on the priority list.

RCSLT Scotland will continue to collect feedback from members across the country to measure the impact of the mask once it’s in more widespread use.

What next?

The RCSLT has written information on priority groups to use the mask which can help to inform local decisions.

If you use any of these products, external feedback is being collected as part of a wider evaluation to identify what products work best, in which settings and for which professional groups.

The RCSLT will continue to work with the UK governments to ensure that transparent face masks remain available for speech and language therapists and their clients. Please do contact us via info@rcslt.org to share your experiences.

Resources

Transparent face masks approved for new pilot

Two transparent face masks have met the transparent face mask UK technical specification

COVID-19 hub

Resources and guidance related to COVID-19

Reducing health risks in the post-pandemic workplace

Statement from the COVID Airborne Protection Alliance (CAPA)