From today (Monday 19 July), double vaccinated frontline NHS and social care staff in England who have been told to self-isolate will be permitted to attend work in exceptional circumstances and replaced by testing mitigations.
This will include staff who have been contacted (‘pinged’) as a close contact of a case of COVID-19 by NHS Test and Trace, or advised to self-isolate by the NHS COVID-19 app.
The decision to allow NHS and social care staff to attend work after being told to self-isolate should be made on a case-by-case basis, and only after a risk assessment by the organisation’s management.
This must be authorised by the organisation’s local Director of Infection Prevention and Control, the lead professional for health protection, or the Director of Public Health relevant to the organisation.
In order to mitigate the increased risk associated with attending work, the following mitigations must be implemented:
- The staff member should be fully vaccinated, defined as having received both doses of an MHRA approved vaccination, with 14 days having elapsed since the final dose.
- The staff member should undertake a PCR test and should self-isolate until they receive the result. They should only attend work if this result is negative.
- They should undertake daily LFD tests prior to starting work each day. Test results should be reported to NHS Test and Trace via the web portal and to their duty manager. Any staff member who has a positive LFD test during this period should not attend work and should arrange a PCR test as soon as possible.
- If the staff member develops any COVID symptoms, they should stay at home and immediately arrange a PCR test.
- Staff working during this 10-day period should comply with all relevant infection control precautions and PPE should be properly worn throughout the day. Any breaches should be reported immediately to their line manager.
- The staff member should not work with clinically extremely vulnerable patients or residents, as determined by the organisation.
Workers’ union GMB has slammed the decision. Rachel Harrison, GMB national officer, said:
“Ministers have no regard for the welfare of staff at all. That’s apparent, as the guidelines only exempt staff from self-isolation to attend work, and not outside of work.”