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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: 24 May 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

Lockdown has now ended. What should I do if I am clinically extremely vulnerable?

Shielding advice has ended nationally.

Managers should review their shielding staff members' work arrangements. Staff who can continue to work effectively from home and wish to do so should be supported in this wherever possible.

If this is not possible, extremely vulnerable staff may return to the workplace if this is supported by completing a COVID Individual Risk Assessment Form (revised April 2021). on the Occupational Health intranet site.

If concerns remain about a staff member's work arrangements on completion of this, please use the same form to request additional Occupational Health advice prior to the employee's return.

Managers should ensure that the employee is returning to a COVID-19 secure environment using the COVID-19 Secure Workplace Risk Assessment Template. Clinically extremely vulnerable staff members should not return to high risk COVID-19 patient facing pathways.

It is understandable that some shielding staff will feel anxious about returning to work and a manager may wish to make short-term work arrangements to address such anxieties, such as a phased return to work or adjustments to duties.

Encourage staff to contact the Employee Assistance Programme or the Occupational Health team for support if they find anxiety is a barrier to their return.

New shielding letters

Some employees recently received shielding letters who were not asked to participate in any previous shielding. Some employees felt their risk was over-estimated. If a staff member received a letter recommending shielding and is unsure why, they should contact their GP for advice. Only GPs can access the shielding assessment via the health and social care network system to provide this information. Occupational Health are aware that the coding of certain diseases, particularly previous gestational diabetes, has moved otherwise low-risk individuals into the shielding group.

Occupational Health strongly recommends that all staff take up their vaccination offer.

Information about checking for an antibody response to vaccination is also available at the end of the Individual Risk Assessment Form.

Further information is available on the intranet:

Guidance: Protecting clinically extremely vulnerable staff from COVID-19

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 COVID Individual Risk Assessment Form (revised April 2021) on the Occupational Health intranet site for any vulnerable staff member.

Vulnerable staff include:

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

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?

The UK Government has advised anyone who is pregnant is considered clinically vulnerable. Therefore, the advice remains that if they can work from home they should continue to do so and should not work with known or suspected COVID-19 patients.

In line with Government guidance, managers should undertake a staff risk assessment for all pregnant staff using the COVID Individual Risk Assessment Form (revised April 2021) on the Occupational Health intranet site.

When community COVID-19 infection rates are low (fewer than 100/100,000 cases in the community per week), for those not at higher risk (see above) and particularly if the employee has completed a course of vaccination, there can be more flexibility and managers are advised to support the individual's choice wherever practicable.

However, any manager or staff member with concerns about their risk assessment and the resulting recommendations should speak to their manager and then can be referred to Occupational Health for further advice.

There is further risk assessment advice on the NHS Employers website.

When community COVID-19 infection rates are high (more than 100/100,000 cases in the community per week), we advise that, if you are pregnant:

  • if you can work from home you should do so
  • you should avoid acute patient care.
  • if you are over 28 weeks' gestation or with significant health risks at any gestation age (as advised by your antenatal team) you should work from home.
  • if you are over 35 years old / BAME / obese or with health issues such as hypertension or diabetes or immune problems you are considered at higher risk and are advised to avoid patient-facing roles and work from home wherever practicable to do so.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that anyone who is pregnant should be offered COVID-19 vaccines.

Please see PHE advice for those of childbearing age, currently pregnant or breastfeeding.

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

Diabetes UK has produced a guide to support you:

Guide to COVID-19 and Diabetes - Diabetes UK

All diabetic staff should complete a COVID Individual Risk Assessment Form (revised April 2021) on the Occupational Health intranet site with their manager to consider their workplace infection control arrangements.

The guidance on the form outlines steps you can take to keep yourself safe at work, including advice on PPE, patient contact, and vaccination response testing.

If you have any questions about working with diabetes, please speak to the 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.

We want to ensure that all BAME staff working at OUH feel safe and supported. For this reason, all BAME staff are included in the 'vulnerable and at risk' group with regards to COVID-19.

All BAME staff should have a COVID Individual Risk Assessment Form (revised April 2021) on the Occupational Health intranet site completed with their manager to consider their workplace infection control arrangements.

The guidance on the form outlines steps you can take to keep yourself safe at work, including advice on PPE, patient contact, and vaccination response testing.

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

If you work with severely immunosuppressed patients, such as haematopoietic stem cell transplantation patients (e.g. blood and bone marrow transplant patients / stem cell transplant patients), do not return to working directly with these patients after experiencing COVID-19 until you have shown no symptoms for one week and have a negative test. Please use the Staff Symptomatic Testing form for this.

All other staff

Staff not working with the severely immunocompromised may follow the Public Health England guidelines regarding return to work and only return to work on day 10 after the onset of symptoms, if their temperature has been normal for 48 hours and their only remaining symptom is a dry cough.

If you are unsure about your fitness to return, please contact Occupational Health for further advice.

Can I get re-infected with COVID-19?

Yes. 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.

I have had COVID-19 infection recently. Am I now immune to COVID-19?

On the limited data so far, you probably have a level of protection that dwindles over time but probably lasts for about five months.

The period of time for which immunity lasts depends on multiple factors, such as your genetics and sex, the strength of your initial immune response, and the characteristics of the virus itself as it continues to evolve.

Even if you have had COVID-19, we recommend that you complete your COVID-19 vaccination course once you are at least 28 days post infection.

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.