The government announced that from 17 January 2022, all NHS staff, health and social care workers, and volunteers working in England may be able to end their self-isolation period after five full days as long as they get two negative lateral flow device (LFD) tests on day five and six of their isolation (test needs to be performed 24 hours apart).
If both these LFD test results are negative staff may end their isolation immediately and can return to work that same day under the following conditions:
- the staff member should not have any COVID-19 symptoms, or their only symptoms are cough or anosmia which can last for several weeks
- if the staff member works with patients or residents who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 (as determined by the organisation), a risk assessment should be undertaken, and consideration given to redeployment for the remainder of the 10 day isolation period
- the staff member should continue to undertake daily LFD tests for the remaining days of isolation period (day serve, eight, nine and 10) even if they have already returned to work.
- if any of these LFD test results are positive the staff member should isolate and should wait 24 hours before taking the next LFD test
- on days the staff member is working, the LFD test should be taken prior to beginning their shift, as close as possible to the start time
- the staff member must continue to comply with all relevant infection control precautions and PPE must be worn properly throughout the day
If any of the above cannot be met, the staff member should not come to work and should follow the stay at home guidance for the full 10-day period.
Read the full government guidance: COVID-19: management of staff and exposed patients or residents in health and social care settings and COVID-19: workplace testing terms and conditions for further information.