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Boris Johnson under fire for ‘irresponsibly parading’ around hospital without a mask



The Prime Minister has been heavily criticised after being accused of “irresponsibly parading” around a North East hospital without wearing a face covering.

Boris Johnson visited Hexham General Hospital in Northumberland on Monday (November 8) in order to to reinforce the Government’s message in persuading more vulnerable and older people to take up the offer of a Covid booster jab.

Pictures taken during the visit, however, showed Mr Johnson going about the hospital without a face covering – although he was seen wearing a mask at other times.

In photos without a mask, he is seen elbow-bumping and greeting nurses who are wearing disposable face coverings.

Labour’s shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, linked the mask-less images to the PM’s decision not to return from the visit in time to take part in a Commons debate on parliamentary standards, after his Government performed a U-turn on its move to rip up the current probe system to investigate MP wrongdoing.

Taking to his Twitter account, Mr Ashworth said: “So not only is Boris Johnson too cowardly to turn up to Parliament to defend the sleazy corrupt government shenanigans of recent days.

“He’s now irresponsibly parading round a hospital without a mask. Patients and NHS staff deserve better than this.”

Both Downing Street and the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Hexham General, defended the Prime Minister, however.

Replying to a complaint, Northumbria NHS said on social media: “Please be assured that infection prevention and control remains an utmost priority for our trust.

“The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, followed strict measures, including wearing a mask, in each clinical area he visited.”

Guidance published on the trust’s website recommends that visitors wash their hands at the hospital entrance and “wear a face covering when you enter the hospital until you leave.”

Questioned by journalists on whether he had broken the rules, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “During a hospital visit, we always make sure we abide by the rules set out.

“He will have been abiding by the rules in place.”

It’s the second time in the past eight days that No 10 has had to field questions about Mr Johnson’s mask wearing.

Last week, his official spokesman was asked why he had failed to cover his mouth and nose whilst sitting next to 95-year old renowned broadcaster Sir David Attenborough at the UN Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.

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