Replacing national requirement for patients to self-isolate before elective care with local flexibility welcomed

Layla McCay

Responding to updated NICE guideline Arranging planned care in hospitals and diagnostic services on self-isolation, Dr Layla McCay, director at the NHS Confederation, said:

“We have heard anecdotally from NHS leaders that some of their patients had been put off from coming in for planned treatments because of the blanket rule that required everyone to self-isolate at home for 14 days prior to their elective care, including those whose personal circumstances such as their employment would not easily allow it.

“We have heard from many Chief Executives that healthcare leaders are well-placed to understand and are keen to manage the particular and complex risks that affect their local populations. If we are serious about addressing NHS waiting lists, we will need to move from generic national policy to allow for local variation, opportunity and needs. It is right that this policy is adjusted so that more decisions can be made locally, taking into account the patient’s personal circumstances, staffing, estates, cooperation with other health and care organisations, and local variations in infection rates, all while adhering to testing, hand hygiene and social distancing requirements.

“The NHS faces a huge challenge in getting through the millions of planned procedures that had to be paused and that have built up as part of our initial response to containing the spread of the disease, alongside supporting an exhausted workforce, maintaining capacity for a possible second wave and preparing for flu outbreaks this winter.

“Public expectations must continue to be managed in what the NHS can deliver safely and by when, and as that the immediate national threat of the virus continues to subside, more decisions on resuming services should be deferred to local leaders.”

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