Living with COVID-19 – update for contractors

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 21st February 2022 and the publication of the Government policy document – COVID-19 Response: Living with COVID-19 – NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) have today issued initial guidance to NHS service providers, including community pharmacy contractors.

Read the NHSE&I letter

The key points for community pharmacy are summarised below:

Staff who test positive – Healthcare staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 should not attend work until they have had two negative LFD test results taken 24 hours apart. The first test should not be taken before day 5 after their initial positive test. These tests need to be 24 hours apart, and providing they are medically fit, they can return to work on the morning of day 6 providing they tested negative 24 hours earlier.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) will be updating its guidance for staff and patients exposed to COVID-19 on 24th February.

Testing for patients and staff – the Prime Minister outlined changes to a variety of testing protocols; NHSE&I will provide more information in the coming weeks on the specific detail of the various testing protocols for patients and staff. Current testing protocols should continue until further guidance is received.

For now, healthcare staff should continue to access the LFD tests via the GOV.UK online ordering system or via the Pharmacy Collect service.

Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) – there are no immediate changes to IPC requirements. This includes the requirement for staff, patients and visitors to wear a mask/face covering in healthcare settings.

PSNC has asked NHSE&I to arrange for revised materials, such as posters, to be provided for use in pharmacies to highlight the ongoing requirement for the use of face coverings in healthcare settings, notwithstanding the changing situation in other areas of society.