COVID-19: Staff Information Hub

COVID FAQs: Staff Guidance

As we move into a new phase of living with Covid, we are committed to reviewing changes to National guidance and how we apply them.

Please see current guidelines below to help protect colleagues and patients:

  • Colleagues working at Osprey Court or within admin teams in practices will no longer need to wear masks when working in areas where patients are not present
  • We continue to ask our colleagues working in any patient-facing areas, such as Severnside treatment centres and practice clinical spaces, to wear masks; this includes those who are working in reception areas where there are screens.

A reminder for all colleagues of the continued importance of the precautions below, which should be taken where ever practical:

  1. twice-weekly Lateral Flow Testing Order coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow tests – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
  2. keep rooms ventilated; as the weather improves, this will be easier
  3. clean common touch points regularly including desks, keyboards, telephones, fridges etc. using Clinell wipes or other suitable products
  4. if you test positive for Covid, please do not attend work; NHS guidance is to stay at home for at least five days following a positive test https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-and-treatment/when-to-self-isolate-and-what-to-do/

Finally a reminder to update covid risk assessments if there has been any change, for example a new medication, confirmed pregnancy etc.

We will continue to monitor the situation and change it if required by any local prevalence.

Following a government consultation, the mandatory requirement for Healthcare Workers to be fully vaccinated against Covid 19 has been revoked. 

Although you will not be legally required to be vaccinated to fulfil your role, we still highly recommend all staff do so as an effective way of protecting yourself, friends, family and the patients we serve.

It is easy to get vaccinated against Covid 19

Please see the following links:

If you have questions or concerns, please speak with your manager.

It is important that we all rest and look after our own wellbeing at this time and so, we ask that individuals continue to book and take annual leave. We have confirmed that currently our standard ‘carry forward’ and ‘buy back’ procedures for 2022 – 2023 remain in place and therefore any untaken annual leave outside of these parameters will be lost.

The testing and quarantine requirements for travel to England depend on an individuals covid vaccination status and the country from which they are travelling.

Please see Travel abroad from England during coronavirus (COVID-19) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) for up-to-date information.

As a general principle, if an individual returns from an overseas holiday where quarantine is required, where possible, and the service can accommodate, individuals will need to book additional leave to cover this self-isolation period. If this is not possible then we will look at whether home working or shift swaps would be practical and may also look at unpaid leave to cover any outstanding period.

In deciding which of these options (or combination of) is appropriate consideration will be given to when the travel arrangements were made and the reason for travel.

Please ensure that you discuss any travel plans and potential quarantine implications with your line manager well in advance of travel / annual leave dates.

At this time, we are continuing with our standard ‘carry forward’ and ‘buy back’ procedures. These are:

  • Holiday Buy Back: BrisDoc operates a flexible holiday arrangement to enable all staff to ‘sell’ holiday back to BrisDoc at their normal (or average, if more than one) rate of pay. This only applies to holiday above the statutory minimum that has not been used, and must be agreed in advance with your Line Manager at least 4 weeks before 31st December. Holiday entitlement not used by the correct date or agreed to be bought back by BrisDoc will usually be lost. Holiday buy back is paid in January payroll.
  • Holiday Carry Forward: In exceptional circumstances, employees can carry forward up to a maximum of 1 weeks’ worth of annual leave over and above the statutory minimum into the following year. This equates to the employee’s average weekly hours. Any holiday carried forward must be taken by the 31st March each year, or it will be lost.

Within our services we are maintaining our current working practices including the the wearing of face coverings in certain situations for example when moving around buildings.

Covid testing and self-isolation requirements for patient facing healthcare workers have changed slightly. The updated government guidance is here.

NHS Guidance suggests the following to limit the spread of the virus:

  • get vaccinated – everyone aged 12 or over can book COVID-19 vaccination appointments now

  • meet people outside if possible

  • open doors and windows to let in fresh air if meeting people inside

  • limit the number of people you meet and avoid crowded places

  • wear a face covering on public transport, in shops and, when it’s hard to stay away from other people – particularly indoors or in crowded places

  • wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day

Please continue to undertake twice weekly lateral flow testing at home. If you test positive, please continue to follow the current Government guidance for healthcare staff: People with symptoms of a respiratory infection including COVID-19 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)  LFT to support this guidance will continue to be available through the gov.uk portal for NHS staff in England.

Healthcare staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 should not attend work until they have had two negative LFD test results taken 24 hours apart. The first test should not be taken before day 5 after their initial positive test.
These tests need to be 24 hours apart, and providing they are medically fit, they can return to work on the morning of day 6 providing they tested negative 24 hours earlier.

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.

Please continue to undertake twice weekly lateral flow testing at home. If you test positive, please continue to follow the current Government guidance for healthcare staff: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-managing-healthcare-staff-with-symptoms-of-a-respiratory-infection/managing-healthcare-staff-with-symptoms-of-a-respiratory-infection-or-a-positive-covid-19-test-result) LFT to support this guidance will continue to be available through the gov.uk portal for NHS staff in England.

Staff who are household contacts of a positive COVID-19 case will now be able to continue to work as normal if they remain asymptomatic and continue to test twice weekly. They will no longer be required to have a PCR test in order to return to work.

Staff who live in the same household as someone with COVID-19 are at the highest risk of becoming infected because they are most likely to have prolonged close contact. People who stayed overnight in the household of someone with COVID-19 are also at high risk.

If you are a household or overnight contact of someone who has had a positive COVID-19 test result it can take up to 10 days for your infection to develop. It is possible to pass on COVID-19 to others, even if you have no symptoms.

Patient-facing healthcare staff who are identified as a household or overnight  contact are able to continue with work as normal if they remain asymptomatic and continue to test twice weekly.

If the staff member works with a a high risk group , or they themselves are at high risk, they should discuss with their line manager options to help minimise risk of onwards transmission i.e. daily test (rather than twice weekly); working away from a patient facing environment where feasible etc. 

Whilst they are attending work, staff must continue to comply rigorously with all relevant infection control precautions.

If staff develop any symptoms during these 10 days, they should follow the advice for staff with symptoms of a respiratory infection, including COVID-19.

If the staff member tests positive, please continue to follow the current government guidelines for healthcare staff

Please also remember to follow normal sickness processes to inform your line manager that you are self-isolating in line with national guidance.

Wherever possible we will ask staff to work remotely. However, if this is not possible due to the nature of the role you may be asked to attend a different BrisDoc site if possible.

Where this is not available or staff are asked to remain away from all sites, then staff will receive their normal contracted rates of pay.

While recognising there may be caring responsibilities, from an isolation perspective you are able to follow the guidance under ‘I have been in contact with a positive Covid-19 case, what do I do?’.

The reality is that, for many of us in this situation, we will need to be at home to care for dependents, while also being needed in our services to care for patients in a variety of ways. We would ask you to work with your line manager and colleagues to balance these conflicting demands.

At present, our policy allows for staff to be paid for up to 5 days pro rata within a rolling 12 months.

Other options might include:

  • remote working where feasible
  • changes in working pattern​, so for example working evenings instead of days, this could mean working in alternate services
  • sharing caring responsibilities wherever possible to allow periods of work even where ‘normal’ hours are not met.

At this time there is no national guidance related to reimbursing carers for long term absence and we are seeking further clarity on this. That said we are hoping that, in working together, we are able to find a path that allows individuals to continue to work, all be it with potential adjustments, while reducing the financial implications for individuals.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) can make anyone seriously ill. But for some people, the risk is higher.

DOWNLOAD THE BRISDOC RISK ASSESSMENT

People most at risk of getting seriously ill are known as clinically extremely vulnerable.

You’re considered clinically extremely vulnerable if:

  • your doctor or GP has classed you as clinically extremely vulnerable because they think you’re at high risk of getting seriously ill
  • you’ve been identified as possibly being at high risk through the COVID-19 Population Risk Assessment
  • you’ve had an organ transplant
  • you’re having chemotherapy or antibody treatment for cancer, including immunotherapy
  • you’re having an intense course of radiotherapy (radical radiotherapy) for lung cancer
  • you’re having targeted cancer treatments that can affect the immune system (such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors)
  • you have blood or bone marrow cancer (such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma)
  • you’ve had a bone marrow or stem cell transplant in the past 6 months, or are still taking immunosuppressant medicine
  • you’ve been told by a doctor you have a severe lung condition (such as cystic fibrosis, severe asthma or severe COPD)
  • you have a condition that means you have a very high risk of getting infections (such as SCID or sickle cell)
  • you’re taking medicine that makes you much more likely to get infections (such as high doses of steroids or immunosuppressant medicine)
  • you have a serious heart condition and are pregnant
  • you have a problem with your spleen or your spleen has been removed (splenectomy)
  • you’re an adult with Down’s syndrome
  • you’re an adult who is having dialysis or has severe (stage 5) long-term kidney disease

Shielding advice was paused on 1 April 2021. As restrictions have been eased following the move to Step 4 of the roadmap, clinically extremely vulnerable people are advised, as a minimum, to follow the same guidance as everyone else. Further information can be found at Guidance on protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

To support our staff to follow this advice line managers are continuing to update risk assessments with their staff members as needed, there will be oversight of these assessments by a clinical lead.

If you believe that you are ‘at risk’ and are concerned that socially distancing measures have not been discussed / actioned please contact your line manager or the workforce team via workforcesupport@brisdoc.org

We will listen to any concerns staff may have and if there are genuine concerns, we will try to resolve them to protect the health and safety of our staff. However, if an employee refuses to attend work, and after consideration of circumstances appears to be without valid reason, such a stance cannot be supported and could result in disciplinary action.

This last two years have been challenging for us all. We need to be kind to each other and support each other. This includes those physically in work and those who have needed to self-isolate or have become unwell.

The staff wellbeing hub at https://brisdoc.co.uk/staff-well-being-hub has access to a range of resources to help support individuals including the telephone number for our confidential staff support line. In addition, Mind have some excellent advice and support on how we can help support our mental health at this time – https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing

If you have any suggestions for improving this wellbeing hub or would like any additional support please do not hesitate to contact the workforce team via workforcesupport@brisdoc.org.

On 2nd April 2020 a joint letter was issued from the Department for Health and Social Care, NHS Resolution, and NHS England and NHS Improvement regarding clinical negligence indemnity in response to Coronavirus.

Please see the attachment on the CEM/CMO/2020/013 alert via https://www.cas.mhra.gov.uk/ViewAndAcknowledgment/viewAlert.aspx?AlertID=103017

Useful Resources

Covid Vaccinations for NHS Staff

The mandatory requirement for Healthcare Workers to be fully vaccinated against Covid 19 has been revoked following a government consultation. 

Although you will not be legally required to be vaccinated to fulfil your role, we still highly recommend all staff do so as an effective way of protecting yourself, friends, family and the patients we serve.

Find out more >

Need more advice?

Contact the Workforce Support Team

0117 9370 902

Visit the wellbeing hub