Health leaders divided on changes to self-isolation rules for NHS staff

Danny Mortimer responds to the announcement that double-vaccinated staff told to self-isolate could be allowed to attend work in exceptional cases.

19 July 2021

The Department of Health and Social Care has announced that double vaccinated frontline NHS and social care staff in England who have been told to self-isolate will be permitted to attend work in exceptional circumstances and where additional safety measures can be upheld.

In response, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers and deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “The NHS needs all the support it can get over the summer as it responds to the dual challenge of rising cases of coronavirus alongside rising demand for its broader services. However, health leaders are divided on this particular issue of whether their staff who are double jabbed should be allowed to swap the need for self-isolation with increased testing.

“On the one hand, they are worried about their capacity to support patients safely and quickly, particularly given that many staff will already be away for parts of summer as they take overdue annual leave that is owed to them but on the other hand, the last thing they would want to do is expose their patients and colleagues to an increased risk of catching the virus, so the need for local review and discretion here is important.

“Despite the success of the ongoing vaccination programme, the pandemic still presents a very real risk to the nation and so, while the Government seeks to give the NHS more fire power to respond to its various challenges with this new measure, there are things all of us can do to keep ourselves and those around us safe.

“This is why the NHS Confederation has launched a new campaign called #NotTooMuchToMask alongside a range of other bodies to help the public continue to make sensible choices and give confidence to those who already intend to act in this way now that the national restrictions have lifted.”