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Self-isolating nurses: COVID rule changes in bid to cut absence

Healthcare staff, asymptomatic despite positive lateral flow test, to no longer wait for often-delayed PCR results before they begin isolating

COVID-19 rule-change means nurses with a positive lateral flow test but no symptoms should be able to end self-isolation and get back to work sooner

Nurses who are asymptomatic following a positive lateral flow test will no longer have to take a PCR test, in a move designed to cut staff absence.

Asymptomatic nursing staff will be able to return to work if they get negative lateral flow results on days six and seven following their positive tests. Currently those without symptoms must order a PCR test and only begin counting their isolation period once they receive their result, which can be delayed due to high demand.

The rule change comes into force on 11 January.

COVID-19 rule-change means nurses with a positive lateral flow test but no symptoms should be able to end self-isolation and get back to work sooner

Picture: iStock

Nurses who are asymptomatic following a positive lateral flow test will no longer have to take a PCR test, in a move designed to cut staff absence.

Asymptomatic nursing staff will be able to return to work if they get negative lateral flow results on days six and seven following their positive tests. Currently those without symptoms must order a PCR test and only begin counting their isolation period once they receive their result, which can be delayed due to high demand.

The rule change comes into force on 11 January.

68,000

staff absences at NHS acute trusts in England on Boxing Day 2021; more than one third involved coronavirus

Source: NHS.uk

Anyone who tests positive in a lateral flow test but has no symptoms will begin self-isolation right away, rather than waiting for confirmation from a PCR test, potentially enabling them to get back to work.

Healthcare services have struggled with spiralling staff absence

The change was confirmed today by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who admitted parts of the health service will feel ‘temporarily overwhelmed’ as ministers stick to their coronavirus ‘plan B’.

On Boxing Day there were more than 68,000 staff absences at NHS acute trusts in England, with more than a third related to coronavirus. A number of trusts have declared critical incidents due to high numbers of COVID-related absence, with exhausted nurses being called in on their rest days to cover for isolating colleagues.

People who have COVID-19 symptoms should still get a PCR test, the UK Health Security Agency confirmed.

Critical workforces to be prioritised for lateral flow test kits

The Prime Minister announced 100,000 ‘critical workers’ would be prioritised for lateral flow tests.

The government are yet to confirm who falls under the guidance, but Boris Johnson told a press conference on Tuesday it would include staff ‘to fortify the NHS.

Prioritised workers will be required to take daily lateral flow tests five days a week and will be sent kits.


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