Covid-19 Practice Staff and the Test & Trace Service
We have had a number of queries regarding practice staff who have been contacted by the Test & Trace Service as they have come into contact with someone who has had a positive Covid test.
For most of these cases it has been whilst they have been in a clinical setting, seeing patients and wearing the correct PPE as guided nationally. For practice staff who provide direct patient care and wear the correct PPE, they should switch off their Covid app during the clinical session to ensure they are not included as a contact.
If the Covid app isn’t switched off and a clinician is contacted by the Test & Trace Service, please see the guidance below on the action that practices need to take. This only applies when the contact has been during a clinical session and wearing the correct PPE.
We would suggest reading the full information relating to Health & Social Care Staff available on the Gov.UK website however, we have extracted the following useful guidance:
6. Contact risk assessment and exemption criteria
If health and social care staff are providing direct care to a patient or a resident with COVID-19 and are wearing the correct PPE in accordance with the current IPC guidance, they will not be considered as a contact for the purposes of contact tracing and isolation. They will also not be required to self-isolate for 10 days (organisations have agreed the standards for PPE specification, fit testing and regimes of use for clinical and care activities).
It is important to note that the effectiveness of the use of face masks, face coverings, or other PPE for prevention of transmission or acquisition of coronavirus infection cannot be guaranteed in settings other than the provision of direct care with patients or residents. Therefore, the use of PPE in other settings, such as a staff room or canteen, will not necessarily exclude an individual from being considered a close contact. In addition, if health and social care staff have been in contact with a COVID-19 case and are not following appropriate IPC, including wearing correct PPE, they will be considered as a contact for the purposes of contact tracing and isolation.
If a health or social care worker is considered to be a contact, and the recommendation for them to self-isolate would have implications for the provision of the service, their employer will need to escalate this for a risk- assessment to a Tier 1 contact tracer at the local Health Protection Team (HPT) . Advice about whether a risk assessment is needed may also be sought from the HPT. The risk assessment should take account of any PPE use (including its type and situational appropriateness) and other mitigating factors that may reduce the risk of infection transmission to such an extent that the individual identified as a contact does not need to self-isolate.
All staff who come into contact with COVID-19 cases – whether or not they are protected by the use of PPE or by other factors – should remain vigilant to the possibility of contracting infection and should self-isolate immediately if they develop relevant symptoms.