‘Free medics from quarantine rules’: Forcing doctors and nurses to isolate after contact with Covid cases fuels staff crisis, NHS chiefs warn
- NHS Trust chiefs are pleading for medics who have been double jabbed and test negative to be allowed to return to front line duty instead of isolating for 10 days
- Others say staff are ‘sick of wearing masks’ ahead of potential rule relaxation
- NHS is facing record backlog of 5.1million waiting for care in wake of pandemic
Forcing doctors and nurses to self-isolate after contact with Covid cases is fuelling staff shortages and must be scrapped, health leaders have said.
One NHS trust chief executive said medics who have had both jabs and tested negative are pleading to return to the frontline.
But current rules mean they must isolate for ten days – making it harder for the NHS to tackle the record backlog of 5.1million people waiting for care.
The senior health boss said: ‘The rules around self-isolation need a rethink. I’ve got lots of medics who are saying, “I’m double jabbed, I’ve done a flow test, I’m negative, can I come back to work?”.’
They added: ‘Covid-positive patients are nowhere near as sick as before but we’ve also got 130, 140, registered nurses off isolating and this is a big issue.’
One NHS trust chief executive said medics who have had both jabs and tested negative are pleading to return to the frontline. Pictured: Staff at a testing site in Chessington
Another NHS trust chief executive said they had up to one in five workers off sick, with half of those suffering from fatigue or depression.
Others have been forced to take time off work to look after children who have been sent home from school after an outbreak.
They added: ‘With demand levels about 20 per cent up on the levels that we saw pre-pandemic – and they were high then – you can imagine the stress and tension.’
A third boss said NHS staff are ‘sick of wearing masks’ and wondered when the rules will be relaxed.
Current rules mean medics must isolate for ten days – making it harder for the NHS to tackle the record backlog of 5.1million people waiting for care
They added: ‘It’s got to go at some point and we’ve got to have some confidence in the vaccines.’
Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, said: ‘Keeping patients and staff safe is an absolute priority for trust leaders, and no one underestimates the crucial importance of rigorous infection control.
‘But we know the continuing self-isolation requirements are a source of frustration for some staff, particularly for those who are double-jabbed, tested negative and want to support their colleagues.
‘These rules can be disruptive, so it’s important to ensure they are evidence based and kept under close review.’
Miss Cordery said more investment will be needed if the health service is to adapt to ‘living with Covid’.
Frontline staff do not have to self-isolate if they are in contact with Covid patients in hospitals while wearing PPE.
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