NHS frontline staff in England who are fully vaccinated will, under “exceptional circumstances”, be allowed to continue working if “screwed” by the Covid contact tracing app, the government said.
The move – which also applies to front-line social workers – comes as increasing staff absences due to the need to isolate themselves are putting unsustainable pressure on health services.
The Ministry of Health and Social Affairs said the exemption would only apply in cases where the absence of staff could pose a “significant risk of harm.”
Staff contacted by NHS Test and trace and asked to quarantine themselves because they have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus will still need a negative PCR test before they can return to work and will then have to go through daily lateral flow tests.
Decisions on the qualification of personnel will be taken on a case-by-case basis after a risk assessment by the management of the health or social protection organization concerned.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “As we learn to live with this virus, it is important to ensure that frontline staff can continue to provide the best possible care and support to people at the top. down the country.
“These new rules will strengthen our collective defenses against this horrific virus, allowing fully vaccinated frontline NHS and social service staff to continue to work when needed.”
UK Health Security Agency Managing Director Dr Jenny Harries said: ‘With the number of cases continuing to rise, it is imperative that we do all we can to manage this virus and support our NHS and services social under the pressure of increased demand and sustained pressure.
“We have provided specific advice to the NHS and social care facilities for circumstances where there is a significant risk to health or safety resulting from the absence of staff or an essential service cannot function.”