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Self-isolation: NHS tells nurses to stick to stay-at-home rules

NHS issues COVID-19 guidance to employers ahead of the ending of self-isolation and other coronavirus regulations for the public in England
woman takes a lateral flow test as nurses told to continue self-isolating and rules are relaxed for public in England

NHS issues COVID-19 guidance to employers ahead of the ending of self-isolation and other coronavirus regulations for the public in England

Nurses should not go to work if they have coronavirus and should continue to test twice a week, wear face masks and social distance in clinical areas, NHS guidance has confirmed.

In a letter to all providers today , NHS England and NHS Improvement leaders said current infection, prevention and control guidance will remain.

COVID restrictions – no change for NHS nurses

The guidance comes after the government in England announced its ‘living with COVID’ strategy on Monday, with prime minister Boris Johnson outlining the end of isolation rules and free testing for the public.

NHS issues COVID-19 guidance to employers ahead of the ending of self-isolation and other coronavirus regulations for the public in England

woman takes a lateral flow test as nurses told to continue self-isolating and rules are relaxed for public in England
Picture: Alamy

Nurses should not go to work if they have coronavirus and should continue to test twice a week, wear face masks and social distance in clinical areas, NHS guidance has confirmed.

In a letter to all providers today, NHS England and NHS Improvement leaders said current infection, prevention and control guidance will remain.

COVID restrictions – no change for NHS nurses

The guidance comes after the government in England announced its ‘living with COVID’ strategy on Monday, with prime minister Boris Johnson outlining the end of isolation rules and free testing for the public.

The letter sent to all NHS providers states that all healthcare staff who have tested positive for coronavirus should not attend work. Staff can return when they have had two negative lateral flow test results taken 24 hours apart after day five of their initial positive test – as has been the case for everyone until tomorrow.

The letter, co-signed by NHS England and NHS Improvement’s deputy chief nurse Duncan Burton, said staff should continue to order free tests from the government website and pharmacies until March 31. Emergency stock can then be accessed by trusts and clinical commissioning groups through the UK Health Security Agency following the end of free testing on 1 April.

Infection prevention and sick pay

The letter confirms there will be no change to infection prevention and control guidance. Staff, patients and visitors to healthcare settings will still be expected to wear face coverings.

And sick pay guidance will remain the same for nurses who need to isolate or are off work for COVID-related sickness.

It is unclear how nursing staff in the social care sector will be affected once COVID restrictions come to an end.

COVID rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Scotland

  • The legal requirement for people to wear a face covering ends on 21 March, but first minister Nicola Sturgeon is still advising people to self-isolate if they have COVID-19
  • Hospital staff – including those in non-clinical areas of hospitals – are expected to wear fluid-resistant surgical masks ‘at all times’

Wales

  • NHS infection prevention and control guidance is the same as in England, meaning rules around self-isolation and mask wearing are likely to remain in place. Face coverings are still a legal requirement in hospitals and care homes
  • The government is expected to announce longer-term plan alongside the outcome of a review of regulations on 4 March, however there are no formal plans to end self-isolation rules

Northern Ireland

  • The rules on face coverings were scrapped on 15 February.
  • Self-isolation guidance on infection remains – anyone testing positive for coronavirus is required to isolate for 10 days


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