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The UK’s health and care industry is being hit with staff shortages due to increasing numbers of individuals being advised to self-isolate.

The British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) has today called upon the government to extend the NHS self-isolation exemption in England to eligible workers in the health and care industry amid concerns over staff shortages.

Following a week that saw over 500,000 individuals being told to self-isolate after being pinged by the COVID-19 app or contacted by NHS Test and Trace, the significant rise in numbers of employees self-isolating has resulted in staff shortages, impacting a wide array of sectors, including health and social care.

In response, the government announced that from today double vaccinated frontline NHS and social care staff in England who have been told to self-isolate will be permitted to attend work if they are able to meet a number of conditions.

These conditions include having a negative PCR test, taking daily negative lateral flow tests for a minimum of seven days, and up to 10 days or completion of the identified self-isolation period.

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According to the government, the measure has been introduced to “alleviate pressure on NHS and social care services” and is being considered on a “case-by-case basis, and only after a risk assessment by the organisation’s management.”

In particular, the government has stated it “is clear the change applies only to frontline NHS and social care staff where their absence may lead to a significant risk of harm.”

The BHTA, which represents over 400 companies in the healthcare and assistive technology industry, is calling for these measures to be extended to include all eligible staff from its member companies.

Despite not being classed as “frontline NHS staff”, BHTA member companies play a central role in the health and social care sector, providing safe access to vital equipment and services.

Often, these services and equipment are provided on behalf of the NHS and local authorities, such as in the case of integrated community equipment service provider Millbrook Healthcare, or help to significantly reduce the burden on these organisations by providing an alternative route to those in need.

Dr Simon Festing, Chief Executive Officer of the British Healthcare Trades Association, commented: “Our members play an integral role in the provision of vital health and care services across the country; however, many are impacted by the ongoing ‘pingdemic’ crisis.

“Staff shortages may adversely affect important equipment services, from the provision of wheelchairs necessary for users’ mobility, to the delivery of essential independent living aids required for patient discharge from hospitals.

“Following the government’s announcement that frontline NHS staff are not required to self-isolate if they are double jabbed and take the correct precautions, we would urge the government to extend this exemption to companies providing services on behalf of the NHS.

“Throughout the pandemic, our members have proven they are quick to adapt to fast-evolving challenges, keeping their employees and service users safe, while also continuing to provide their essential services.

“As England now reopens and all restrictions are lifted, our members should be given the opportunity to manage this latest challenge to ensure the ongoing provision of health and care for all.”

Meanwhile, trade unions, are questioning today’s move by the Government as NHS staff and ambulance services workers are often working with the most vulnerable patients.

Rachel Harrison, GMB National Officer, said: “Ministers have no regard for the welfare of staff at all. That’s apparent, as the guidelines only exempt staff from self-isolation to attend work, and not outside of work.

“If this is a safe thing to do, why does it also come with the caveat of not being able to work with clinically extremely vulnerable people?”

Government ministers have insisted that self-isolation rules will remain until August 16.

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https://i1.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Older-woman-with-care-worker.jpg?fit=900%2C600&ssl=1https://i1.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Older-woman-with-care-worker.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Liane McIvorCOVID-19 Sector NewsCOVID-19 Trade NewsGovernment & Local AuthoritiesNewsroomNHSSector NewsThird SectorBHTA,COVID-19,health,NHS,PCR,pingdemic,self-isolation,social care,staff,workersThe British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) has today called upon the government to extend the NHS self-isolation exemption in England to eligible workers in the health and care industry amid concerns over staff shortages. Following a week that saw over 500,000 individuals being told to self-isolate after being pinged by...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals