Viewed from the vantage point of the latest additions to the mountain of evidence about the lack of efficacy of face masks and their harm to wearers, that anyone – let alone a health trust – would mandate their usage to patients and staff beggars belief. But even in the early days of the COVID-19 ‘emergency’ it was clearly visible from the flipflopping guidance of ‘The Science [TM]’ that, except as a means of coercion and control, they didn’t work.
Looking back, it is quite clear that when it came to their mask policies, my employer, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, had little interest in patient care and staff welfare. I struggled and I was bullied, as, to my knowledge, were other staff; and I know that there were clients who missed out on the care they needed. In my view, Mersey Care was all about corporate image; it had to be seen to be doing the right thing, so it could look good in front of healthcare chiefs.
I am an experienced clinical psychologist, specialising in psychodynamic psychotherapy. I am aware of the importance of relationships and the need to see a person’s face, allowing a vast amount of information to be exchanged and for patients to feel warm and comfortable.
In July 2020, I started work for Mersey Care as a Highly Specialist Clinical Psychologist and was part of a community mental health team (CMHT). At the beginning, the relationship with my line manager, also a clinical psychologist, was a very good one.
In what was to become a running theme for Mersey Care’s mask policy, when asked about masks the response was ambiguous: some were wearing them, others weren’t.
For example, as part of Mersey Care’s standard employee induction, I attended conflict resolution training. During the classroom session, mask wearing was unnecessary. But, during the practical part, masks wererequired. Wishing to be flexible and amenable for my new employer, I donned one, but really struggled and felt distressed.
Thereafter, in August 2020, I had a consultation with my GP and we discussed the distress I experienced whilst wearing a mask. We agreed, given some past traumas, that I should be mask exempt. My GP explained that practices had been instructed by the Government not to issue personalised letters to people who were mask exempt, but to direct them to a Government website where people could download or print off an exemption card, which I did.
I informed my line manager about my exemption and she shared this with other managers at my hub. And for a while, there was no problem. However, in late October, the hub manager began to badger me about not wearing a mask. He seemed anxious about Covid. He implemented convoluted and restrictive rules at the hub. For example, in the staff canteen no one was permitted to eat in the company of anyone else; surplus chairs were piled in a corner and then, in an attempt to maintain this rule, sellotaped together.
Read More: My NHS Employer Wouldn’t Recognise My Mask Exemption and Made My Life Misery