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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Alert Coronavirus / COVID-19

If you have a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss or change to your sense of taste or smell, do not come to our hospitals. Follow the national advice on coronavirus (COVID-19).

Please find information on our services and visiting restrictions in our COVID-19 section.

Patients and visitors must wear a face covering in our hospitals.

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COVID-19 Staff FAQs: Fitness to come to work

Information alert box Last updated: 07 January 2021

This is a fast moving situation and we will try to keep this page as up-to-date as possible.
Please continue to check national guidance on the COVID-19 pandemic.

If your question is not answered below, and you are a member of staff, please speak to your line manager or email

If your question is about an OUH HR matter that isn't addressed here, please discuss this initially with your line manager who can then raise it with the HR consultant for your Division.

Some links are to documents on the OUH internal staff intranet: if you are a staff member and cannot access the intranet, please email and we will send you the document you need.

Please remember guidance is likely to change rapidly, so check back to see if you have the most up-to-date version of a document.

Risk assessment

What happens whilst we remain in Tier 4 or national lockdown if I am clinically extremely vulnerable?

Whilst we remain in Tier 4 or national lockdown, staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable are advised not to attend work even if they are unable to work from home.

Guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19

If you are a clinically extremely vulnerable member of our staff please follow this guidance and stay at home. If you have any concerns about following this guidance please talk to your line manager in the first instance; you can also talk to your local HR team.

Your manager should already be aware that you are at higher risk and be ready to support you and ensure you do not attend work. You will continue to be paid as normal if you are unable to attend work because you are clinically vulnerable.

In addition, those identified as Very High Risk using the Occupational Health vulnerability assessment process should follow this guidance.

Further information is available on the intranet:

Guidance: Protecting clinically extremely vulnerable staff from COVID-19

I consider myself at risk due to a long-term health condition, but haven't received a letter or email. Can I still come to work if infection rates are rising?

If you think you should be shielding, you should contact your GP or the Occupational Health team for guidance.

You can also use the Occupational Health pre-assessment tool to check your vulnerability to COVID-19, which is based on the ALAMA COVID Age Tool.

If you are more vulnerable (see below) to COVID, you must complete the Individual Risk Assessment Form with your manager to determine how to minimise the risk for you at work.

More information is available on the Occupational Health intranet.

Do I need an Individual COVID Risk Assessment?

Individual Risk Assessment is an absolute priority.

Managers must check if their staff are in a vulnerable group and complete the Individual Risk Assessment Form, for any vulnerable staff member.

These include:

HR has developed an online form to identify who needs to do an Individual Risk Assessment. You should be able to complete this online, including on a mobile device. This is not the Individual Risk Assessment form.

You do not need to repeat your risk assessment if you have already had one, but you can record the date of your assessment on this form, which will help our monitoring so that we know our vulnerable staff are being supported.

For staff who are not in a vulnerable group, there is no need for Occupational Health to be involved. A record of the conversation with the manager can simply be made - the new online form can be used for this.

Your local HR Team can provide you with general advice about risk assessments and should be your first port of call.

I'm a member of staff and I'm pregnant. What should I do?

In light of high rates of COVID-19 in our patient population, we advise that:

  • all pregnant women who can work from home should do so;
  • pregnant women over 28 weeks' gestation or with significant health risks at any trimester (as advised by their antenatal team) should work from home;
  • pregnant women under 28 weeks' gestation who wish to attend work must complete the Individual Risk Assessment Form with their manager and implement all practicable controls to reduce their risk. They should not work with known or suspected COVID-19 patients, and should avoid acute patient care wherever practicable to do so;
  • pregnant women over 35 years old, of BAME ethnicity, or with a BMI over 30 are considered at higher risk and are advised to avoid patient-facing roles, and should work from home wherever practicable to do so.

This guidance is precautionary. Any pregnant employee who is concerned about how this guidance affects them can contact the Occupational Health team for more advice.

More information is available on the Occupational Health intranet.

I am member of staff and I have diabetes. What should I do?

Our Diabetes team has produced a document outlining the guidance for staff who work for our Trust and have diabetes.

It outlines steps you can take to keep yourself safe at work, including advice on PPE, patient contact, and work in the community.

Advice for managers of OUH staff who have diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic (pdf, 171 KB)

If you have any questions about working with diabetes, please speak to our Occupational Health team or your line manager.

What are the arrangements for Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff?

People from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 - and the Government has launched an enquiry as to why this is the case.

We want to ensure that all BAME staff working at OUH feel safe and supported, and we have taken a proactive approach rather than waiting for conclusive research or national guidance. For this reason, we are now including all BAME staff in the 'vulnerable and at risk' group with regards to COVID-19.

This means we expect all managers of BAME staff to have conversations with their staff to discuss any concerns they have, and to complete a risk assessment. Occupational Health has produced specific guidance for managers called 'Protecting our BAME colleagues' and has updated the 'Guidance for Managers COVID-19 health risk assessment' form to support these conversations.

Both of these documents are available in the Vulnerable Staff Advice section of the Occupational Health intranet, or can be emailed on request.

Our diverse workforce is one of our greatest strengths. We recognise our BAME staff may be feeling particularly anxious at this time, and we hope this makes a real difference.

If you have had a COVID-19 infection

When is it safe to return to work?

Staff working with haematopoietic stem cell transplantation patients

Do not return to working directly with haematopoietic stem cell transplantation patients (e.g. blood and bone marrow transplant patients) until you have shown no symptoms for one week and have a negative test. Please use the Staff Symptomatic Testing form for this.

If you are unsure about your fitness to return, please contact Occupational Health for further advice. If your only remaining symptom is a dry cough or loss of sense of taste or smell, you may return at day 14 after symptoms started if you are not working with severely immunocompromised patients.

All other staff

Follow the public health guidelines regarding return to work and only return to work on day 10 after the onset of symptoms if your temperature has been normal for 48 hours and your only remaining symptom is a dry cough.

Can I get re-infected with COVID-19?

It is possible to get re-infected with COVID-19.

If you develop further symptoms of COVID-19 please self-isolate and re-present for testing as we are very interested to see when second infections happen.

Am I now immune to COVID-19?

This is not yet clear but on the limited data so far you probably have a level of protection that dwindles over time (possibly months).

Whether this immunity prevents all reinfection or merely makes a second round of sickness less intense, and the period of time for which immunity lasts, depends on multiple factors, such as a your genetics and sex, the strength of your initial immune response, and the characteristics of the virus itself as it continues to evolve.

We will update this advice as more information becomes available.

Do I still need to wear PPE if I have had COVID-19?

The Trust's infection control practices are essential to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to patients and colleagues.

You must continue to wear all appropriate PPE and follow all the Trust's infection control processes.