Boris Johnson is at the centre of a face coverings row after going mask free on a visit to a hospital.
The Prime Minister posed with masked nurses at Hexham General Hospital in pictures that sparked a stir on social media.
His visit came as he dodged a debate on Tory sleaze in the House of Commons some 300 miles to the south.
Hospital management insisted that he’d followed stringent measures, including wearing a mask, in each clinical area he visited.
But rules for visitors posed on its website tell them to wear a face-covering when they enter the hospital until they leave.
Labour’s shadow health secretary linked the maskless pictures to Boris Johnson’s decision not to return from the visit in time to take part in the debate on parliamentary standards after his Government U-turned last week on its move to tear up the current probe system to investigate MP wrongdoing.
Jonathan Ashworth said on Twitter that Boris Johnson was too cowardly to turn up to Parliament to defend the sleazy nefarious government shenanigans of recent days, and that he’s now parading around a hospital without a mask, and that patients and NHS staff deserve better than this.
Boris Johnson visited the Northumberland unit to bolster the Government’s messaging behind persuading more vulnerable and older people to take up the offer of a COVID booster jab.
Downing Street said it was a long-standing trip in his diary after facing questions about whether it was being used to allow him to skip the sleaze debate.
During the visit, images showed him going about the hospital without a face covering while wearing a mask at other times, and in photos where he was without a mask, Boris Johnson could be seen elbow bumping and greeting nurses who were wearing disposable face masks.
Matthew Taylor, the head of the NHS Confederation, which represents health service hospitals, told Sky that the Prime Minister was an especially important figure and what he does is important, and he said that he believed it was unfortunate that he was seen in a hospital setting not wearing a mask, because he thought that in that hospital, like every hospital, it encourages people to wear face masks, not just on the wards but in the hospital as a whole.
However, Downing Street and the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Hexham General, defended the Prime Minister following the visit.
Boris Johnson seems to have gone from bad to worse daily and it’s embarrassing now.
We all dislike having to wear face coverings, but we do in hospitals because it’s the one place that there are numerous infections, not just COVID and if nurses and doctors are wearing them, then we should be as well, including Boris Johnson, but it appears that Boris does what he likes because it’s one rule for us and another for him.
Boris Johnson is on his way out, and his handling of the sleaze problem has shown that he’s not deserving of the job.
It’s all about making money and what the people want is never taken into consideration, and he’s one of the biggest hypocrites that we’ve had so far as Prime Minister.
When Boris Johnson last went to a hospital, he shook patients’ hands and then went down with COVID, it just shows you what a fool this man is, and now he’s back doing it again, and just looking at the man, that’s definitely a face that needs a mask!