Fully jabbed frontline NHS staff in England will, in “exceptional circumstances”, be permitted to carry on working if they are “pinged” by the Covid contact tracing app, the Government has announced.
The move will also apply to frontline social care workers.
The announcement comes amid concerns that rising staff absences due to the need to self-isolate is putting unsustainable pressure on health care services.
The Department of Health and Social Care said the exemption would only apply in cases where the absence of staff could lead to a “significant risk of harm”.
Staff who are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told to quarantine because they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus will still need a negative PCR test before they can resume work.
They will then be required to take daily lateral flow tests.
Decisions on which staff qualify will be made on a case-by-case basis following a risk assessment by the management of the health or social care organisation concerned.
What Sajid Javid said
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “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.
“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.”
‘It’s imperative we do everything we can to manage this virus’
Dr Jenny Harries, UK Health Security Agency chief executive said: “With the number of cases continuing to rise, it is imperative that we do everything we can to manage this virus and support our NHS and social care services under the strain of increased demand and sustained pressure.
“We have provided specific guidance to NHS and social care settings for circumstances where there is a significant risk to health or safety resulting from staff absence or a critical service cannot run.”