Patient-facing healthcare staff with symptoms of a respiratory infection, who have a high temperature or do not feel well enough to attend work, should take a Covid test as soon as they feel unwell.
This is the latest update to guidance on symptomatic testing for NHS staff, following last week’s announcement that asymptomatic testing is being paused.
It says that:
- If the lateral flow device (LFD) test result is positive they should follow guidance for staff with Covid, including not attending work for five days.
- After the five days, patient-facing healthcare staff can return to work when they have had two consecutive negative LFD test results (taken at least 24 hours apart).
- If the LFD test result is negative, patient-facing staff can attend work ‘if they are clinically well enough to do so and they do not have a high temperature’.
However, staff members who work with patients whose immune system means they are at higher risk from serious Covid illness, ‘should discuss this with their line manager who should undertake a risk assessment’.
Staff members who are still displaying respiratory symptoms when they return to work should also speak to their line manager who should undertake a risk assessment, the guidance said,
‘On returning to work, the staff member must continue to comply rigorously with all relevant infection control precautions and personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn properly throughout the day’, it added.
Meanwhile, patient-facing staff who are identified as a household or overnight contact of someone who has had a positive Covid test result ‘should discuss ways to minimise risk of onwards transmission with their line manager’.
Actions could include redeployment to lower risk areas; working from home; and limiting close contact with other people especially in crowded, enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces.
Asymptomatic Covid testing for NHS staff in England has been paused.
The Government said the decision came in response to declining rates of Covid transmission and thanks to the success of the vaccination campaign.