Intensive care doctors and nurses at St George’s Hospital are backing a Mayor of London campaign to wear face coverings on public transport and help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus this winter.

The call comes as coronavirus cases continue to rise across the capital and hospitals are experiencing high demand of services as well as a new Covid-19 variant – Omicron – being detected in the UK leading to new government guidelines being introduced, including face coverings being made mandatory on public transport and in shops.

Mask wearing has also been recently confirmed as being the single most effective public health measure at tackling Covid-19 with mask-wearing associated with a 53% reduction in COVID-19 incidence.1

Frontline doctors and nurses wearing PPE and members of the public wearing masks on the Tube with the message ‘I save lives, you can too’, to emphasise the difference wearing a face covering can make to reduce the spread of COVID-19, will be shared across social advertising from today. A poster campaign on the TfL network will also run in January.

Jacqueline Totterdell, Group Chief Executive of St George’s and Epsom and St Helier, said: “As someone with a respiratory condition and an NHS Chief Executive, I know the difference wearing masks makes first-hand, so it was important to me to personally champion this campaign alongside the Mayor.

“Every day, tens of thousands of NHS doctors, nurses, cleaners, porters and other healthcare professionals wear masks and other PPE – often for more than 12 hours a day – when treating extremely unwell patients. Everyone at George’s wants TFL passengers to also help save lives by wearing a face covering on their commute. It’s the most simple but effective way to help keep everyone safe this winter.”

The Mayor of London and St George’s campaign launches this week on social media and will be seen in Tube stations and on platforms from January.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “Wearing a face covering is one of the most important, easiest and unselfish things we can all do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 this winter. The scientific evidence is clear – wearing a face covering will help protect you and those around you and I’m really proud to team up with health leaders at St George’s Hospital to urge Londoners and all visitors to continue wearing face coverings on public transport. By wearing face coverings we give Londoners and visitors the reassurance and confidence to make the most of what our city has to offer, while also protecting our heroic keyworkers as well as the vulnerable passengers who rely on the network to get around our city.

“With confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in London rising and our scientists still learning about its effects, the situation with COVID-19 in the capital is finely balanced. It’s vital we all do our bit now to protect ourselves, our loved ones, the things we enjoy and our NHS this winter. So, if you are out and about in town, heading to the fantastic shops and attractions in our city on the tube, trains, buses or trams, I implore you to keep your face covering on and help ensure we can enjoy the Christmas we all want.”

Teareen Mamdeen, Intensive Care Nurse at St George’s who features in the campaign, said: “I work with extremely sick and vulnerable patients every day where I wear PPE for 12+ hours, as well as a mask on my commute. If everyone did the same when on public transport, it would drastically improve the current rising coronavirus situation in London, support the NHS as well as protect one another. It benefits everyone.”

Dr Tom Slater, Neuro Intensive Care Doctor at St George’s who also features in the campaign, said: “Thank you to everyone who continues to wear masks in crowded or enclosed spaces, like on public transport, for playing their part in supporting the fight against covid-19 in London to prevent the spread of infection and rising cases.

He added: “Seeing other commuters wearing face coverings on the Tube makes me feel valued in my frontline role and that they are supporting us. If everyone encouraged their families and friends to wear face coverings, it would help reduce the risk of another winter wave of covid-19.”

Jacqueline added: “Our teams have worked incredibly hard over the last 18 months, please support them by getting vaccinated against covid-19 and flu, and wearing a face covering in crowded places. Doing these small, but effective, actions makes you an NHS hero and we thank everyone who is supporting the NHS in these ways in the fight against covid-19.”

To further support the NHS this winter, if you need medical care but it isn’t an emergency, please call or access NHS 111 online before attending an emergency department as often there are more appropriate NHS services available to you which can be quicker, such as your GP or local pharmacy.

Notes to editors

1BMJ study can be found here: