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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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COVID-19 Staff FAQs: Self-isolation

Information alert box Last updated: 19 August 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 covidquestions@ouh.nhs.uk

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 covidquestions@ouh.nhs.uk 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.

Self-isolation FAQs

What is the guidance on self-isolation?

Self-isolation is a really important part of protecting yourself, your loved ones and your colleagues.

If you are not feeling well, you are not expected to be at work. You should self-isolate and get tested.

This flowchart explains the actions you should take if you or a member of your household have symptoms of COVID-19.

From Monday 16 August 2021, people who have received both of their vaccinations or who are aged under 18 will no longer need to isolate if they are a close contact of someone with COVID-19:

Self-isolation removed for double jabbed close contacts from 16 August - gov.uk

However, this does not apply in the same way to healthcare workers - more guidance is available on the Government website:

COVID-19: management of staff and exposed patients or residents in health and social care settings

What to do if you have received both vaccinations and are named as a contact of someone with confirmed COVID-19

If your contact is from your household or another close contact, you are required to isolate and must not attend work. You must continue to self-isolate in line with Government guidance. You need to contact your line manager and FirstCare, but do not need to contact the staff testing team.

If your contact is not from your household, please ensure you are registered on the staff testing website, inform your line manager, and contact the Staff Testing team at:

ouh-tr.staffcovidtesting@nhs.net

The team will then offer a PCR test within 24 hours during weekdays, or at weekends you can arrange a PCR test via Test and Trace. Guidance regarding out of hours testing is available from the Staff Testing service.

The result of this PCR test must be negative before you return to work. If the PCR test is from outside the Trust, evidence of a negative result must be given to the Staff Testing team before your return to work.

Following the negative PCR result, you need to carry out a lateral flow test every day for 10 days following your last contact with the person with COVID-19 (even on days you are not at work). These results must be uploaded onto the staff testing website.

The team will carry out a risk assessment if you work with patients who are highly vulnerable to COVID-19, and may recommend home working or redeployment during the 10 day post-contact period.

Please do not attend work without speaking to the Staff Testing team first.

There are other key points to consider.

  • If you have had COVID-19 in the last 90 days, you do not need to have a PCR test and should only carry out the daily lateral flow tests.
  • On the days you are working, you should take your lateral flow test before starting your shift and wait for the result prior to coming in.
  • You should comply with all relevant infection control precautions including PPE, social distancing and good hand hygiene.
  • You cannot use this programme to avoid isolation following travel abroad.
  • Staff working regularly with severely immunocompromised patients (e.g. BMT) should redeploy to a lower risk patient group.

I have been 'pinged' by the Test and Trace app, or told I need to isolate. Should I follow the guidance?

Yes. If you are told to self-isolate because you have been identified as a close contact of COVID-19 by NHS Test and Trace, it remains a legal requirement to self-isolate.

In very exceptional circumstances, double vaccinated staff who have been told to self-isolate will be permitted to attend work after a risk assessment. Depending on your day of exposure, you may need a negative PCR test (if accepted on the programme this will be done on day 5) and you will need to undertake daily negative lateral flow tests as instructed for up to 10 days.

This measure will only apply to frontline staff where their absence may lead to a significant risk of harm, and only after a risk assessment has been carried out by the staff testing team. The staff testing team will formally enter you onto the daily testing programme. You should not decide to do this yourself as you may be fined for not isolating when you are legally required to do so – you must be risk assessed and enrolled in the programme.

It is highly unlikely that you will be allowed to work if your contact is a household member, or you work routinely with people who are immunocompromised. You cannot use this programme to avoid isolation following travel abroad. Please DO NOT email the staff testing team if you fall into these groups, and please isolate as instructed.

Any staff who are permitted to attend work will still legally need to self-isolate outside of work.

I live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term health condition, or has a weakened immune system. Should I self-isolate?

If you live with someone who is at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 because of an underlying health condition, you can read the Government's advice on how to stay safe. If you are still concerned, please read the information below on how you can apply for temporary accommodation.

Do I have to call FirstCare or my line manager if I have to self-isolate and I can't work from home?

Yes, you do. You will need to follow the normal procedure for reporting absence, which is to call FirstCare.

You should check with your line manager for any local procedures regarding the reporting of absence after making contact with FirstCare.

If you are symptom-free, this will be classed as a non-medical absence (as you are not unwell), and you will be given up to 10 days' authorised paid leave.

If I self-isolate with no symptoms but I'm still able to work from home, do I need to phone FirstCare?

No, there is no need to phone FirstCare in this instance.

What about quarantine after returning from abroad?

Please see Quarantine FAQs.