Guidance has today been issued to 241 NHS Trusts across the UK which seeks to ensure that every part of the NHS and all of its employees are fully prepared if any patients are suspected of having Covid-19. Currently, the handful of cases in the UK are being treated in specialist units. However, it is likely that this will change if more cases are diagnosed.
A summary of the advice:
- Effective communication channels to raise awareness of how Covid-19 is transmitted and measures that can be taken to minimise risks to ALL staff groups – including those who are contracted / outsourced.
- All staff to be aware of local preparedness for the presentation, investigation, management and care of suspected Covid-s9 cases.
- A review of all relevant risk assessments to identify who may be at risk, how the risk may arise and what measures can be put in place.
- Adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) are available for staff providing care to suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19.
- Training for staff who may be caring for patients with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 in infection prevention measures and the correct use of PPE.
- Procedures in place to allow staff and representatives to raise any concerns at the earliest opportunity, without detriment and feedback is given on the outcome.
- Assessments on the ability to continue to deliver safe and effective care where staff are moved from one area to work on areas affected by Covid-19.
- Staff who may be more vulnerable to Covid-19 should be identified and advice sought from occupational health regarding their deployment.
- If staff caring for people with possible or confirmed Covid-19 are doing so outside of their normal shift patterns, this needs to be done by agreement with them and any accrued overtime payments / TOIL for additional work policies are adhered to.
- Staff working with suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 must take adequate rest breaks during the shift and in between shifts to ensure they don’t become fatigued, as fatigue can increase the risk of exposure.
- Systems in place to keep the details of staff involved in caring for patients with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 confidential.
- Any staff member who is suspected or confirmed as having Covid-19 has a right to their personal details being treat as confidential like any other patient.
- Public Health England staff travel advice to be communicated widely.
- Staff who have to self-isolate – contractual sick pay arrangements still apply and any absences should betreated as compliance with national infection control and should not count towards and sickness absence policy triggers.
If you have any concerns about Coronavirus at work please raise them with your local GMB Representative.
- GMB – https://www.gmb.org.uk/coronavirus-what-members-need-to-know
- NHS Staff Council – https://www.nhsemployers.org/-/media/employers/documents/pay-and- reward/NHS-staff-council—Guidance-for-Covid-19-Feb- 20.pdf?la=en&hash=70C909DA995280B9FAE4BF6AF291F4340890445C
- Government – https://www.gov.uk/guidance.wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public
- ACAS – https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus