NMC statement on recent changes to self-isolation rules for health and care professionals in England

Published on 21 July 2021

Read our statement

As restrictions have lifted, confirmed Covid-19 cases and pressure on health and care services are expected to keep rising. In response, the Department of Health and Social Care has changed its guidance in England. This means that frontline NHS and social care staff who have been told to self-isolate (having been in close contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19) can go to work in exceptional circumstances, if they meet certain requirements.

We know that as a nurse, midwife or nursing associate, you may have questions or concerns. If so, we’d encourage you to speak to your employer. They’ll be able to tell you how this new guidance will be implemented where you work.

The Government has been clear that this approach should be used on a case by case basis where a member of staff’s absence may lead to a significant risk of harm. And only then after a full risk assessment.

As this change is implemented, it’s crucial that employers keep carrying out appropriate risk assessments and putting measures in place to manage any risk of transmission. This includes continuing to make sure that appropriate PPE is available to the nursing and midwifery workforce.

It’s also important that as part of any risk assessment, employers take into account the disproportionate impact that Covid-19 has had on professionals and members of the public from a minority ethnic background or who are considered to be clinically vulnerable.

Nurses, midwives and nursing associates should continue to follow local guidance and adhere to the Code. You should take all reasonable precautions to avoid potential health risks to colleagues and people receiving care. That’s why we also encourage professionals who have yet to take up the vaccine to book it as soon as possible.

We also want to reassure nurses, midwives and nursing associates that we’ll consider the context when concerns are raised with us about someone’s practice in these unprecedented circumstances. Concerns that may appear to be the result of poor individual practice can actually be caused by pressures on the health and care system they work in. We’ll always take this into account.

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