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Frontline NHS and social care staff can attend work rather than self-isolate in exceptional circumstances

19th July 2021 about a 3 minute read
“With the number of cases continuing to rise, it is imperative that we do everything we can to manage this virus and support our NHS and social care services under the strain of increased demand and sustained pressure" UK Health Security Agency Chief Executive, Jenny Harries

As Covid-19 cases continue to soar amid renewed warnings about the pressure on the NHS, the government has announced measures to enable frontline NHS and social care staff to continue to work – where their absence may lead to significant harm.

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.

This will include staff who have been contacted 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 and will be contingent on staff members only working after having a negative PCR test and daily negative lateral flow tests.

Government guidance says 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.

It stresses the decision 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.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said:

“As we learn to live with this virus, it’s important that we ensure frontline staff can keep providing the best possible care and support to people up and down the country.

“The government has backed healthcare services at every turn through this global pandemic and these new rules will fortify our collective defences against this awful virus, by allowing fully vaccinated frontline NHS and social care staff to continue to work when needed.”

UK Health Security Agency Chief Executive, Jenny Harries, said:

“With the number of cases continuing to rise, it is imperative that we do everything we can to manage this virus and support our NHS and social care services under the strain of increased demand and sustained pressure.

“We have provided specific guidance to NHS and social care settings for circumstances where there is a significant risk to health or safety resulting from staff absence or a critical service cannot run.

Matthew Gould, Chief Executive of NHSX, said:

“We built the NHS COVID Pass in weeks, delivered it on time, and are really pleased with its progress. With 6m more users on the NHS app, more on the way, and the prospect of putting the COVID Pass into other patient apps, we are creating a powerful platform for the NHS to do so much more for our citizens online.”

Professor Chris Whitty has urged caution as COVID-19, warning that hospital admissions are doubling every three weeks, and could hit “scary numbers” if the trend continues.

Boris Johnson also urged people to exercise their new freedoms with caution as most mandatory Covid-19 restrictions in England are finally lifted.