Time for my fortnightly missive to all colleagues…and I think about time for some humour. When my kids were growing up, my partner and I used to read to them each night.
COVID-19: Staff Information Hub
NEW: Message to staff
FAQs: Staff Guidance
The government has issued advice on wearing face coverings which can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-safe-outside-your-home/staying-safe-outside-your-home#face-coverings.
You must wear a face covering at all times on public transport or when attending a hospital as a visitor or outpatient. If you can, you should also wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
Evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you. However, if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms, it may provide some protection for others you come into close contact with.
Face coverings do not replace social distancing. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, and/or high temperature, and/or loss of, or change in, your normal sense of smell or taste – anosmia), you and your household must isolate at home: wearing a face covering does not change this. You should arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19.
Within a work environment BrisDoc will provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including face masks where required in line with the national guidance.
Further information can be found here:
Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading.
It is particularly important for people who:
- are 70 or over
- have a long-term condition
- are pregnant
- have a weakened immune system
- wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
- always wash your hands when you get home or into work
- use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
- avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of coronavirus
- only travel on public transport if you need to
- work from home, if you can
- avoid social activities, such as going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas
- avoid events with large groups of people
- use phone, online services, or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS services
- do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
- do not have visitors to your home, including friends and family
Stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms, these symptoms were updated on 18/05/2020
Stay at home if you have either:
- high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to norma
Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.
Please apply for a test via https://www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test-essential-workers. See the FAQ – Guidance on getting a test for Coronavirus (Covid-19)
How long to stay at home?
- If you have a negative test result:
A negative result means you did not have coronavirus when the test was done.
You can stop self-isolating if you test negative, as long as:
- everyone you live with who has coronavirus symptoms also tests negative – keep self-isolating if someone in your home tests positive, or has symptoms and has not been tested
- everyone in your support bubble who has coronavirus symptoms also tests negative – keep self-isolating if someone in your support bubble tests positive, or has symptoms and has not been tested
- you feel well – if you still feel unwell, or have a fever, you may have a different illness that could spread to other people, so stay at home until you’re feeling better
- If you have a Positive test result:
A positive result means you had coronavirus when the test was done.
If you get a positive result, you and anyone you live with must keep self-isolating.
Everyone in your support bubble must also must keep self-isolating.
If you have symptoms, self-isolate for at least 7 days from when your symptoms started. Anyone who does not have symptoms must self-isolate for 14 days
- Unclear, void, borderline or inconclusive test result
An unclear, void, borderline or inconclusive result means it’s not possible to say for certain if you had coronavirus when the test was done.
If this happens, you may be advised to ask for another coronavirus test. Do this as soon as possible, as the test is most accurate within a few days of your symptoms starting.
If you’re not able to have another test, you and anyone you live with must keep self-isolating. Anyone in your support bubble must also must keep self-isolating.
If you have symptoms, self-isolate for at least 7 days from when your symptoms started. Anyone who does not have symptoms must self-isolate for 14 days.
If you are need to self-isolate in line with this advice, please contact you manager as per your normal absence reporting procedures.
This period will be treated as a ‘sick period’. We recognise that staff may not be able to obtain a GP fit note for a sickness period over 7 days, if your period of Covid related sickness extends this period please use 111 online to obtain an isolation note via https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19 and submit this to the workforce team.
The following will be classed as ‘sickness’:
- An individual who is symptomatic for Covid-19 (or any other illness).
- An individual who, in following national guidance has to self-isolate and is unable to work from home in some capacity (which might include altered duties).
In these situations:
- All staff, irrespective of length of service, will receive a sick pay allocation of a minimum of 14 days pro rata at full pay (inclusive of SSP where applicable).
- Sick pay entitlement will not include absence taken in the previous 12 months but rather ‘start again’ as if there has been no previous sickness absence in this period.
- Following this initial period, we will revert to the sick pay allowance within the standard terms and conditions noting the following:
- if an individual is ill for an extended period and unable to work, we will look at this on a case by case basis;
- if an individual has to self-isolate for an extended period, in line with national guidance, our preference would be that we facilitate working from home in some capacity. However, where this is not possible, we will pay sick pay for up to 12 weeks (inclusive of SSP where applicable). In this instance we will ask that staff do allocate the annual leave accrued during this period to this ‘leave’ period.
- We will work outside of our standard sickness management process during this time i.e. we will not undertake stage 1 sickness reviews etc. However, we will still ‘check in’ with staff including those returning after a period of absence.
Anyone in England and Wales who has symptoms of coronavirus, whatever their age can request a test. As essential workers, BrisDoc employees can request a test via the Gov.uk website.
If you have symptoms (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, a loss of or change to your sense of smell or taste) please apply for a test via https://www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test-essential-workers.
Click onto the Start Now button and then complete each section of the online form.
This test can tell you if you have coronavirus at the time the swab sample is taken. Apply within the first 3 days of having symptoms. The test is best taken within 5 days of symptoms starting.
If you are unable to use this service please contact your line manager to arrange a test via employer referral.
Please also remember to follow normal sickness processes to inform your line manager that you are self-isolating in line with national guidance.
Wherever possible we will ask staff to work remotely. However, if this is not possible due to the nature of the role you may be asked to attend a different BrisDoc site if possible.
Where this is not available or staff are asked to remain away from all sites, then staff will receive their normal contracted rates of pay.
The reality is that, for many of us, we will need to be at home to care for dependents, while also being needed in our services to care for patients in a variety of ways. We would ask you to work with your line manager and colleagues to balance these conflicting demands. This might include:
- remote working where feasible
- changes in working pattern, so for example working evenings instead of days, this could mean working in alternate services
- sharing caring responsibilities wherever possible to allow periods of work even where ‘normal’ hours are not met
- using a proportion of annual leave during this time (and certainly that accrued during this period) – this would need to be recorded as annual leave.
The government has indicated that educational establishments will stay open to care for the children of ‘key personnel’. There is currently not a definition of ‘key personnel’ however we would assume that staff within the NHS would fall within this category.
At present, our policy allows for staff to be paid for up to 5 days pro rata within a rolling 12 months. As with sick pay we will not include the previous 12 months usage within our allocation of paid carers leave.
At this time there is no national guidance related to reimbursing carers for long term absence and we are seeking further clarity on this. That said we are hoping that, in working together, we are able to find a path that allows individuals to continue to work, all be it with potential adjustments, while reducing the financial implications for individuals.
The national advice as of 15/06/2020 indicates that there are individuals who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19).
This group includes those who are:
- aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
- under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (ie anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):
- chronic (long-term) mild to moderate respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or cerebral palsy
- a weakened immune system as the result of conditions, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
- being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
- those who are pregnant
Full guidance for those who are shielding due to being extremely clinically vulnerable can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19
People classed as clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to take additional action to prevent themselves from coming into contact with the virus. If you’re clinically extremely vulnerable, you’re strongly advised to stay at home as much as possible and keep visits outside to a minimum (for instance once per day).
This is called ‘shielding’ and the advice is was updated on 05/06/2020:
- If you wish to spend time outdoors (though not in other buildings, households, or enclosed spaces) you should take extra care to minimise contact with others by keeping 2 metres apart.
- If you choose to spend time outdoors, this can be with members of your own household. If you live alone, you can spend time outdoors with one person from another household (ideally the same person each time).
- You should stay alert when leaving home: washing your hands regularly, maintaining social distance and avoiding gatherings of any size.
- You should not attend any gatherings, including gatherings of friends and families in private spaces, for example, parties, weddings and religious services.
- You should strictly avoid contact with anyone who is displaying symptoms of COVID-19 (a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of, or change in, your sense of taste or smell).
The Government is currently advising people to shield until 30 June 2020 and is regularly monitoring this position
To support our staff to follow this advice line managers are undertaking risk assessments with their staff members and actioning appropriate social distancing measures. Where needed, there will be oversight of these assessments by a clinical lead.
If you believe that you are ‘at risk’ and are concerned that socially distancing measures have not been discussed / actioned please contact your line manager or the workforce team via email@example.com
Expert doctors in England have identified specific medical conditions that, based on what we know about the virus so far, place some people at greatest risk of severe illness from coronavirus. Disease severity, history or treatment levels will also affect who is in this group.
Clinically extremely vulnerable people may include:
- Solid organ transplant recipients.
- People with specific cancers:
- people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
- people with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
- people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
- people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
- people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
- people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
- People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- People with rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), homozygous sickle cell).
- People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
- Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.
- Other people have also been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, based on clinical judgement and an assessment of their needs. GPs and hospital clinicians have been provided with guidance to support these decisions.
More information about who has been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable is available on the NHS Digital website.
Individuals within this group have received direct communication from the NHS with advice on ‘shielding’; more stringent measures that should be taken in order to keep themselves and others safe. We will support our staff in following this advice. If you’re still concerned, you should discuss your concerns with your GP or hospital clinician, please also discuss with your line manager or workforce support (via firstname.lastname@example.org) if this relates to the workplace.
We will support you in following this advice. If an individual has to self-isolate for an extended period our preference would be that we facilitate working from home in some capacity. However, where this is not possible, we will pay sick pay for up to 12 weeks (inclusive of SSP where applicable). In this instance we will ask that staff do allocate the annual leave accrued during this period to this ‘leave’ period.
We will listen to any concerns staff may have and if there are genuine concerns, we will try to resolve them to protect the health and safety of our staff. However, if an employee refuses to attend work, and after consideration of circumstances appears to be without valid reason, such a stance cannot be supported and could result in disciplinary action.
If you have annual leave booked, but due to the current circumstances are available to work instead, please check with your line manager if your help is required. If not, whilst we appreciate any holiday travel plans are not possible, please continue to take your leave.
It is important that we all rest and look after our own wellbeing at this time and so, we ask that individuals continue to book and take annual leave during this period. As circumstances improve, we know services will continue to be greatly needed and it may not be possible for us to agree any significant increase in holiday requests later in the year. Please ensure that you discuss any future annual leave requests with your line manager before booking flights, hotels etc. in line with our standard policy.
At this time, we are continuing with our standard ‘carry forward’ and ‘buy back’ procedures for 2020 – 2021. These are:
- Holiday Buy Back: BrisDoc operates a flexible holiday arrangement to enable all staff to ‘sell’ holiday back to BrisDoc at their normal (or average, if more than one) rate of pay. This only applies to holiday above the statutory minimum that has not been used, and must be agreed in advance with your Line Manager at least 4 weeks before 31st December. Holiday entitlement not used by the correct date or agreed to be bought back by BrisDoc will usually be lost. Holiday buy back is paid in January payroll.
- Holiday Carry Forward: In exceptional circumstances, employees can carry forward up to a maximum of 1 weeks’ worth of annual leave over and above the statutory minimum into the following year. This equates to the employee’s average weekly hours. Any holiday carried forward must be taken by the 31st March each year, or it will be lost.
It is important that we all rest and look after our own wellbeing at this time and so, we ask that individuals continue to book and take annual leave. We have confirmed that currently our standard ‘carry forward’ and ‘buy back’ procedures for 2020 – 2021 remain in place and therefore any untaken annual leave outside of these parameters will be lost.
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel however there is speculation that there will be some easing of this advice in the coming months.
Currently, if you travel abroad, when you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK. You must:
- provide your journey and contact details up to 48 hours before you’re due to arrive in the UK
- not leave the place you’re staying for the first 14 days you’re in the UK except in very limited situations (known as ‘self-isolating’).
National guidance has stated that registered health or care professionals travelling to the UK to provide essential healthcare, including where this is not related to coronavirus will not be required to self-isolate. NHS employers (current) guidance specifies that the exemption from self-isolation applies only to a registered health or care professional travelling to the UK to work. i.e. not individuals who chose to travel abroad for a holiday.
If foreign office travel advice changes and individuals start to undertake foreign travel, we will need to follow the quarantine principles in place upon their return.
Based on the current guidance this will mean that, where possible and the service can accommodate, individuals will need to book additional leave to cover this self-isolation period. If this is not possible then we will look at whether home working or shift swaps would be practical and may also look at unpaid leave to cover any outstanding period. In deciding which of these options (or combination of) is appropriate consideration will be given to when the travel arrangements were made and the reason for travel.
Please ensure that you discuss any travel plans and potential quarantine implications with your line manager well in advance of travel / annual leave dates.
Yes! If you are in a position to work additional hours either within your current service or, an alternate service please contact the rota team via email@example.com
For this period, we do not wish to restrict individuals working time. However, we would ask that all staff have at least 1 rest day per week and, we would not wish any staff member to work over 12 hours per shift (taking the appropriate breaks).
If you have any concerns over individual staff working hours during this time please do discuss these with the workforce team.
Thank you so much to all our staff who have recommended friends and family to us. We have had an overwhelming response, for which we are very grateful. We have been incredibly fortunate to be able to fill all of the available roles to increase our support capability meaning that, while we can log their interest and come back to individuals if we have a future need, we will not progress applications straight away.
If your friend or family member still wishes to log their interest in working with us please ask them to contact the workforce team via firstname.lastname@example.org using the subject line ‘new resource’. Please could they send a CV in the first instance with an indication as to their potential availability i.e. daytime, evenings, weekends and explaining their relationship to our staff member. If we have a future need, and dependant on service need and fit, the workforce team will follow a streamlined recruitment process to allow these individuals to join us on a casual worker basis. As part of this streamlined process we will ask the BrisDoc employee to provide a personal reference for these individuals.
The coming months will be challenging for us all. During this time we need to be kind to each other and support each other. This includes those physically in work and those who have needed to self isolate or have become unwell.
We have launched a staff wellbeing hub at https://brisdoc.co.uk/staff-well-being-hub. This hub has access to a range of resources to help support individuals including the telephone number for our confidential staff support line. In addition Mind have some excellent advice and support on how we can help support our mental health at this time – https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing
If you have any suggestions for improving this wellbeing hub or would like any additional support please do not hesitate to contact the workforce team via email@example.com.
As staff that work within the Health service we are considered key workers. While we have, and are continuing to facilitate home working where possible, there are a number of us that are not able to work remotely and therefore must travel to and from our places of work. Please ensure that you carry your BrisDoc / NHS ID with you at these times to demonstrate that you are a Key worker. A SMART card can also be used. If you do not have a BrisDoc ID please contact the rota team via firstname.lastname@example.org
On 2nd April 2020 a joint letter was issued from the Department for Health and Social Care, NHS Resolution, and NHS England and NHS Improvement regarding clinical negligence indemnity in response to Coronavirus.
Please see the attachment on the CEM/CMO/2020/013 alert via https://www.cas.mhra.gov.uk/ViewAndAcknowledgment/viewAlert.aspx?AlertID=103017
Covid Safe Working recommendations suggest that, where possible, personal items should be stored within personal storage spaces.
Within our workplaces there is often limited space to allow this. We would therefore ask that staff limit the number of personal belongings that they bring into the workplace where possible. We understand that in winter months this is may become more challenging and will review the situation again nearer this time.
While shared spaces will be regularly cleaned individuals are reminded that, they too, can use cleaning wipes when using shared storage spaces such as fridges in line with the requirements when using shared office spaces.
Do you need to self-isolate?
Ask the NHS COVID19 assessment tool
Can’t find the information you are looking for?
Send your questions directly to our Workforce Support Team.
Contact the Workforce Support Team
0117 9370 902
previous: Staff updates
Fasting plays an important role in many major religions and is a central feature in all the Abrahamic faiths. In Islam, adult Muslims, who are able to, are required to fast during the month of Ramadan.