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Front-line care staff can continue working if ‘pinged’

Front-line social care staff who have been advised to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS Covid-19 app can continue working if they opt to take tests instead.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said ‘pinged’ staff can work after having a negative PCR test and daily negative lateral flow tests (LFD).

Staff should be fully vaccinated, defined as having received both doses of an MHRA-approved vaccination, with 14 days having elapsed since the final dose. 

Staff 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 ten-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.

DHSC said the decision for care staff to continue working should be made on a case-by-case basis, and only after a risk assessment by an organisation’s management.

Staff who are permitted to attend work will remain under a legal duty to self-isolate as a close contact but will be considered to have a ‘reasonable excuse’ under the Self-Isolation regulations to leave self-isolation to attend work where their absence could result in harm.

They will continue to receive self-isolation reminders.

DHSC said the measure is being introduced to alleviate pressure on NHS and social care services.

“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,” said Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

"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,” he added.

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