The UK government in a recent announcement said that frontline staff of the National Health Service who have received full vaccination will, in ‘exceptional circumstances,’ be allowed to continue working if they are ‘pinged’ by the COVID contact tracing app.
Frontline staff exempted
The decision, which is also applicable to frontline social care workers, comes amid concerns that there has been unfeasible pressure placed on the health care workers who need to self-isolate, and this has led to a rapid increase in the number of absentee staff.
In a swift response to the situation, the Department of Health and Social Care said the exception to the rule would only apply in cases where the absence of staff could lead to a ‘significant risk of harm.'
It also reiterates that staff who are contacted by the NHS Testand Trace and are asked to self-isolate because they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus will still be obliged to carry out a negative PCR test before they will be allowed to return to work. They will also be required to take daily lateral flow tests.
The management of the health or social care organisation concerned will be in charge of taking decisions on which staff qualify for the exemption, after a case-by-case risk assessment is made.
New rules to 'fortify our collective defences'
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.
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, Dr 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.