Those of you in the healthcare sector will have received notification that the rules on self-isolation have now changed. However, this is not a one rule fits all situation. There are still several hurdles that must be satisfied before an individual can return to work during their isolation period.
Firstly, the guidance states it applies to those who have been in potential contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Therefore, if the risk is greater than potential, the normal guidance will apply. We would advise that anyone whom lives with a person who has tested positive should continue to follow the normal guidance by test and trace and isolate for 10 days.
The next hurdle is to be confident there is a real potential harm to patients if that member of staff does not return to work. This essentially means the NHS will expect you to be able to justify the reasons you need the staff member to return to work. You should consider whether other staff members are capable of standing in for those who should be isolating. If you have a sufficient staff force, or available locum provisions to cover absence, staff should continue to isolate.
In all cases any staff member wanting to take advantage of the change in guidance have received both doses of the vaccine with 14 clear days since their last dose. It should be noted that if you are the owner of a healthcare service, it is your responsibility to satisfy yourself the staff member or employee has received such proof.
It is important to remember that as a business owner you have a duty to undertake a continuous risk assessment. The change in guidance falls firmly within this duty. Therefore, you should consider when choosing to let staff members return to work or continue to isolate, the risk it places your business, patients and service users at. Every individual request should be assessed based on their circumstances. Reiterating that it is not a one size fits all situation.
Finally, if you are satisfied all the hurdles are met, remember to ensure PPE is enforced and social distancing measures are in place to protect the staff, patients and service users.