On 24 February 2022, all Covid-19 restrictions ended and free mass testing ended on 1 April 2022. Since then the Government published Living with Covid-19 White Paper — Update and Covid-19: Management of Staff and Exposed Patients or Residents in Health and Social Care Settings which can be found on the GOV.UK website.
However, NHS staff and patients in England must continue to follow the latest government guidance applicable to healthcare settings. The UK infection prevention and control guidance published by UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and accompanying letter from NHS England and NHS Improvement published on 14 April 2022, outlines the protocols to transition back to pre-pandemic measures. The national infection and prevention control manual for England supplements this, setting out how NHS organisations can ensure a successful transition.
In summary, from 24 February 2022 the Government has:
ended the legal requirement to isolate following a positive test
ended routine contact tracing, and no longer ask fully vaccinated close contacts and those under 18 to test daily for seven days
removed the legal requirement for close contacts who are not fully vaccinated to self-isolate.
From 1 April 2022 the Government encouraged people with Covid-19 symptoms to exercise personal responsibility.
NHS staff office workers will no longer be required to work from home.
In the Government guidance, Managing Healthcare Staff with Symptoms of a Respiratory Infection or a Positive Covid-19 Test Result, regardless of whether they have symptoms, staff are advised not to attend work for five days.
On the topic of NHS staff testing, employers are required to continue to follow guidance issued by NHS England and NHS Improvement on staff testing procedures. The guidance requires patient facing NHS staff to continue to test twice weekly when asymptomatic.
Staff who are household contacts of a positive Covid-19 case will now be able to continue to work as normal if they remain asymptomatic and continue to test twice weekly.
Readers are recommended to regularly refer to the NHS Employers website for further updates.
This topic covers the NHS current and evolving initiatives which make up the NHS response to Covid-19.
As the need to respond promptly to the Covid-19 crisis has increased in recent weeks, plans have continued to be put in place across the health and social care system co-ordinated by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), NHS England and NHS Improvement, Public Health England (PHE), Health Education England and NHS Employers.
Plans include redeployment of staff from other settings, bringing staff back from retirement, enabling staff movement between employers, speeding up pre-employment checks, revised terms and conditions and ensuring the provision of adequate training facilities for all staff.
As the weeks have progressed, focus has shifted to developing and implementing strategies for protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of all NHS staff.