COVID-19: NHSE&I issues guidance on minimising spread of infection

COVID-19: NHSE&I issues guidance on minimising spread of infection

June 10, 2020

NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) have written to healthcare providers to outline the plans put in place to minimise nosocomial infections (e.g. COVID-19), including through the NHS Test and Trace programme and the management of outbreaks.

Test and Trace – business continuity planning

The letter describes the actions that NHS providers should take to help support Test and Trace. NHSE&I has asked all primary care contractors – including community pharmacy contractors – to take the following actions:

  1. To prepare for potential staff absence, providers should review their existing business continuity plans and take actions as required. This includes ensuring that arrangements are in place within a primary care network or between buddies to maintain patient access to services.
  2. Providers should inform their commissioner as soon as they consider that delivery of the full contracted service may be compromised by staff absence due to Test and Trace. The commissioner will work with the contractor to put business continuity arrangements in place and to maintain access to services for patients. The provider will need to update information on patient accessible websites and the impacted NHS 111 Directory of Services profiles will need to be updated.
  3. The commissioner will inform the Regional Incident Coordination Centre without delay and work with the provider to implement appropriate business continuity measures. The Regional Team will notify the National Incident Coordination Centre.

Read NHSE&I’s letter on minimising nosocomial infections in the NHS

Management of outbreaks – minimising the risks

As outlined in the update on Test and Trace last week, contractors need to consider COVID related risks to staff and patients and put in mitigations, and may wish to refer to PSNC’s Social Distancing and Infection Control Risk Review Template (this is available on our Personal protective equipment, staff safety and security page). This recently published template provides suggestions on how contractors can reduce the risk of infection and maintain 2m social distancing and it will be reviewed and updated by PSNC as required.

Further support can be found on the business continuity and network resilience pages of PSNC’s COVID-19 hub, as well as more general guidance on our Emergency and Business Continuity Planning page. The RPS has also information on protecting your team in the pharmacy.

Use of face masks

The letter states that, to help keep the spread of COVID-19 under control as lockdown measures are eased, “from the 15 June, the recommendation will be that all staff in hospital wear a surgical face mask when not in PPE or in a part of the facility that is COVID-secure in line with the workplace definition set by the government”. It goes on to say that this “will also apply to other NHS healthcare settings, including primary care”.

Public Health England (PHE) will publish updated PPE guidance to reflect the above later this week and PSNC is in discussion with NHSE&I and PHE to clarify what this will mean for those working in community pharmacy; we will update contractors on this as soon as possible.

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