Fears have been voiced by health officials that thousands of care home and NHS staff might be forced to stay at home and self-isolate as a result of the Government’s test-and-trace programme, APA reports quoting Daily Mail.
Under the newly-launched scheme, anyone who has had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 will receive a text message or email requesting them to stay at home for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms.
However, health officials are reportedly considering the idea of exempting some key workers from the process, recalling the situation at the height of the pandemic, when close to a quarter of NHS workers and care staff were self-isolating at some point.
Concerns have been raised with NHS England that situation might be repeated, gravely impacting the work of healthcare services.
Professor Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians, is quoted by the outlet as saying:
“Many services have struggled with staffing levels through the pandemic... and if significant numbers of NHS or care staff need to isolate, services will be affected.”
Urging swift clarity on the issue, Nick Ville, of the NHS Confederation said:
“We do not yet know whether there will be exemptions for NHS staff from the requirement to self-isolate under the test-and-trace programme… At this critical time, it is vital that we do not stop frontline staff from delivering care. These staff are operating in settings where effective infection control measures are already in place – but, clearly, if they do suffer COVID-like symptoms, they should self-isolate immediately.”
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, shared his real concerns over implementation of the tracking-and-tracing programme. The official underscored the need for specific guidance for care homes, to rule out a situation when many staff might have to self-isolate, only exacerbating staffing problems in care homes.