New transparent face masks, made in Scotland, have been approved for use in health and social care settings across Tayside and Fife.
The see-through masks will make communication easier and help reduce the challenges created by the pandemic for those with communication needs.
The masks feature a clear front panel to enable lip reading. This is used by people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Since the start of the pandemic, people who are deaf or hard of hearing have called for transparent masks to be made more widely available.
Face masks have been used as a protection measure against the virus since July 2020 in Scotland, with people having to wear them in shops, cinemas and other venues.
However the covering of the mouth has meant many people who are deaf or hard of hearing struggle with communication as a result.
‘It is great news’
NHS National Services Scotland began distributing the masks to Health Boards in November.
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.
Cabinet Secretary for Health, Humza Yousaf says: “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.
“I am pleased NHS Scotland is rolling out these new, innovative transparent masks.
“It is also great news the masks are being made in Scotland. Businesses across Scotland worked hard to set up a new Scottish PPE supply chain at the start of the pandemic.
“This new and innovative product illustrates the long term benefits a domestic PPE supply chain can bring.”
‘This is a key step in improving communications’
Mary Morgan, Chief Executive for National Service Scotland says: “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.”