Now, research by Smile Free suggests the Scottish government spent around £5m of taxpayer money on transparent masks that were not only ineffective but not recommended for use in most situations.
Announced by the Scottish Government in December 2021 as a means of ‘helping people with communication needs’, an order of 2.3m transparent face masks by NHS Scotland was trumpeted by Scottish Government Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf, as a way to address ‘difficulties for people who rely on lip reading’ caused by the use of face masks – mandated by himself, of course – in care settings.
But how has the Scottish experiment with transparent masks progressed? After the initial drumroll of self-laudatory backslapping from Yousaf and Morgan, things have been quiet concerning the estimated £5,000,000 expenditure from the public purse. Alpha Solway seems strangely silent, its website failing to advertise the mask amongst its suite of products, with the only mention being the original December ’21 press release, buried multiple levels down in the site hierarchy.
NHS Scotland does mention the existence of the masks but offer no further assessment of their impact and benefits to patients and staff. And the RCSLT website, in an update posted on 10th June 2022, states that the DHSC in England is ‘not progressing with its transparent face mask “pilot” as they previously planned’ and records lamely that north of the border, ‘Feedback from our members in Scotland earlier this year indicate that each health board is approaching the rollout slightly differently’.