As we move to a new phase of Test, Trace and Protect across the UK there are new risks to continuity of care for patients and the public. It is possible that all pharmacy staff in a team in any healthcare setting might have to self-isolate at any one time and be unable to work for periods of 14 days. This could have major implications for staffing, including closure of community pharmacies and disruption to primary care and hospital provision.
Current NHS England guidance says:
- If you have had close recent contact with someone who has COVID-19, healthcare workers must self-isolate if the NHS test and trace service advises you to do so.
- Close contact excludes circumstances where PPE is being worn in accordance with current guidance on infection, prevention and control. Refer to risk assessment for staff exposures in the workplace
RPS guidance already states that all pharmacists and support staff who cannot maintain social distance from the public or colleagues should wear PPE to minimise the risk of infection. If this guidance has been followed then pharmacy teams may not need to self-isolate. Everyone has a professional responsibility to protect themselves, their colleagues and their patients by following the advice of the contact tracing team if any contact is identified.
Employers should support members of their teams to comply with NHS test and trace services and review their business continuity plans.
We continue to seek further clarity and guidance for pharmacy teams.