Responding to the publication of the revised Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) guidance and the accompanying letter to the system published by NHSEI, Dr Layla McCay director of policy at the NHS Confederation said:
“Health leaders have had to walk a tricky tight rope of following strict guidance that has kept transmission within their services to a minimum while ensuring they stay on track to deliver ambitious targets to recover the elective backlog.
“On balance, they will welcome this update to the guidance. While coronavirus still presents a very real threat, they appreciate that reducing how long people who have had Covid-19 must be isolated once testing negative, and the isolation and distancing requirements for patients who have not tested positive for Covid-19 will allow them to deliver even more for patients, providing the rules are kept under regular review.
“The relaxation of these measures will free up extra capacity at a time when the elective care waiting list is the highest it has ever been. However, there are still around 71,000 NHS staff absent from work currently, on top of 110,000 vacancies and huge problems with discharging medically-fit patients out of hospital into the community, so realism is still needed about what the NHS can deliver.
“With the continued use of PPE and regular staff testing for coronavirus, patients should feel reassured that their healthcare services will continue to be safe to access."