The Prime Minister has come in for criticism after being accused of "irresponsibly parading" around Hexham General Hospital without a face covering on.

During the visit, pictures showed Boris Johnson going about the hospital during his visit on Monday without a face covering - while wearing a mask at other times.

In photos where he is without a mask, Mr Johnson is seen elbow-bumping and greeting nurses who are wearing disposable face coverings.

Labour's shadow health secretary linked the mask-less images to Mr Johnson's decision not to return from the visit in time to take part in a Commons debate on parliamentary standards after his Government U-turned last week on its move to rip up the current probe system to investigate MP wrongdoing.

Jonathan Ashworth said on Twitter: "So not only is Boris Johnson too cowardly to turn up to Parliament to defend the sleazy corrupt government shenanigans of recent days.

"He's now irresponsibly parading round a hospital without a mask. Patients and NHS staff deserve better than this."

However, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab Raab said Mr Johnson had followed "all the protocols and procedures" while he was on the premises.

During an interview with BBC Breakfast this morning, Mr Raab was read the guidance from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital.

He was told that it stated: "Anyone attending our hospitals and community settings must continue to wear a face covering at all times to protect patients, visitors and staff."

Mr Raab responded: "I know the Prime Minister took the advice on the clinical setting that he was in and followed all the protocols and procedures that were applied there, and that's what everyone should do."

Asked about the guidance specifically and whether that meant Mr Johnson was not following the rules, Mr Raab said: "No, precisely because, as you said, in the settings where it was required he did wear a mask."

However, ITV Good Morning Britain contributor Dr Hilary Jones said it was "ridiculous" that the Prime Minister failed to set an example.

"He should have been wearing a mask. He should have been setting an example, especially in a hospital when today's headlines scream 11,000 people caught Covid in a hospital.

"It's ridiculous. Nobody had the guts to say 'Prime Minister, put a mask on or you can't come in.' That's what should have happened."

In a statement posted on social media, the trust said Mr Johnson had worn a face covering in each of the clinical areas he visited.

"Please be assured that infection prevention and control remains an utmost priority for our trust," it said.

"The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, followed strict measures, including wearing a mask, in each clinical area he visited."