Installing social distancing screens

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QI Case Studies

Installing social distancing screens

Tracey Murphy, Assistant Director of Nursing, Salford Royal Hospital


What we did:

Emma Montgomery, HD consultant specialist at Newcastle Hospital, had an idea for safe social distancing whilst people were receiving in centre haemodialysis during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The idea was to install Perspex screens between the dialysis stations to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection.

This plan was shared with the North East and North West regional network.  Following an outbreak of COVID-19 at the smallest unit we have which is located in Bolton, Manchester, we decided to adopt the idea at Salford Royal Foundation Trust Hospital as well.

The first step was to figure out what we needed:

  • Curtain rails between stations (already in place)
  • Measurements – width and height (being sure to leave space below the screen to allow us to clean the floor)
  • Funds


After working out the measurements using the floor-plan above, the project was costed at £2,106.  The team were able to use COVID funds to support this innovation.

Because of the outbreak, we thought that this was done in the best interest of patient safety therefore we took action rather than waited for sign-off from the infection control team. The senior renal team, made up of ADNS, Clinical Director and Senior Renal Service Manager signed off the innovation. We work as an MDT to ensure that the decisions we make are in the best interests of our patients.

The Perspex screens are cleaned with Chlorclean after every dialysis session and left to dry. They are not fixed, they clip onto existing curtain rails and can be easily removed, however you would not want to have to remove them in an emergency situation, therefore the screens are only suitable if you have space in between stations to get to a patient in an emergency -  we have had to remove some of ours due to this. 

The outcome:

Eight out of ten patients stated that the screens made them feel safer.  Three patients stated that the screens were needed during the pandemic, and five patients said that they felt protected by the screens.  Six patients stated that they would like to keep the screens as a permanent fixture.

NW Renal Network Chair and Consultant Nephrologist at Salford Royal Hospital, Smeeta Sinha commented:

We got the idea from Katy Jones at Newcastle Hospitals Renal department. KQuIP and renal Networks has been sharing experience which has been invaluable. Has worked a treat. Thank you.

Patients at Wigan commented:

Fantastic idea, I feel like I have my own private space when I’m talking to my nurse

They are there to protect us through this pandemic

…keeps us safe and a good idea - also I feel much warmer.

Good idea - I like the pattern on the plastic which stops you walking in to them.

And staff at Wigan said:

Good idea for an infection control purpose

Keeps the patients safe

At Bolton dialysis unit, there were some mixed views from the staff on the intervention, with ideas for improvement as well:

Good idea - makes the space feel more private and personal

Perhaps double curtains with a see-through element rather than solid Perspex screens. The clear curtain can be used with the solid one used for when privacy is required. Not sure if such a product exists?

Curtains are on wrong side of screen so have to go into another pts area to draw curtain

They are too heavy for rails

Cleaning takes ages and must be done between every patient visit

I do feel they make a difference and they are very good in the areas where they are suitable, although you do need to do a risk assessment for your area – good luck!


Author’s name and contact details and any links for more information about your QI project

Tracey Murphy, Assistant Director of Nursing Salford Royal Hospital


NICE accredited clinical practice guidelines 

Available here

23rd Annual Report

Analyses about the care provided to patients at UK renal centres.

Read the report


A report on the nationwide collection of AKI warning test scores. 

Read the report