Centralised Absence Reporting Line
If you feel unwell and have any concerns about symptoms, please isolate your household and call the Centralised Absence Reporting Line on 01752 430000. The line is manned from 06.00 to 20.00. If calling between 20.00 and 06.00, please leave a message on the answering machine.
Find out more about staff testing: visit the testing process for staff page.
For COVID related advice and staff FAQs, visit the COVID-19 Advice for UHP Employees page.
COVID-19 Advice for UHP Employees
An overview on Coronavirus guidance, including how to check your symptoms.
Please contact NHS 111 if you feel worse/ no better at any point during and by the end of your isolation. If you are acutely unwell dial 999 (inform them that you are isolating). More symptom information can be found on the NHS website.
- General guidance for NHS employees
- Information about PPE in the workplace
- Guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection
- Guidance if you have vulnerable people at home
- Goverment's general advice on work absence (You can generate your own sick note, specific to COVID-19, from the NHS website)
- To access the staff risk assessment form for COVID-19, knowing how to record COVID-19 related absences and the management of different zones, see the documents at the bottom of the Staff bulletin page.
- Guidance on maintaining educational provision
- More COVID information on key workers
- Social distancing resources - posters (Staffnet)
Updated 11 September 2020
These FAQs relate to the latest available guidance, as the situation is continuously evolving this guidance might change at short notice. We will endeavour to keep this information as current as possible, however if you have any further concerns please contact the Centralised Absence Reporting Line (01752 430000) regarding sickness and absence, or the Occupational Health Advice line (firstname.lastname@example.org) regarding fitness to work.
Staff sickness- COVID Symptoms
1. I feel unwell with COVID symptoms such as a continuous cough and/or a raised temperature
If you feel unwell and have any concerns about symptoms, please isolate your household and call the Centralised Absence Reporting Line on 01752 430000. We will test if you have symptoms including a fever, cough, tiredness, aches and pains, sore throat, diarrhoea, conjunctivitis, headache, loss of test, skin rash, shortness of breath, chest pain, loss of speech. Please note, we will not test if your only symptoms are those of a cold, such as a runny nose.
The line is manned from 6.00 to 20.00. If calling between 20.00 and 06.00, please leave a message in the answering machine.
Find out more about staff testing: visit the testing process for staff page.
2. I have come to the end of my 10 days of self-isolation and feel fine
You are now able to return to work as long as you feel well enough to return. The cough symptom may linger for longer than 10 days but this does not require you to continue your isolation. As long as you feel well enough to return to work and haven’t had a temperature for 28 hours, you can return to work.
3. I am in the middle of my 10 days of self-isolation and I feel much worse
Contact NHS 111 via their website, if not available call NHS 111 – this number is likely to be very busy. If you are acutely unwell dial 999 (inform them that you are isolating).
4. I am at the end of my 10 days of self-isolation and I don’t feel any better
Contact NHS 111 via their website, if not available call NHS 111 –this number is likely to be very busy. Report continued absence to the Centralised Absence Reporting Line on 01752430000.
5. I have already self- isolated for 10 days and been at work for a week, I have developed similar symptoms again, do I need to isolate again?
If you develop symptoms after the normal isolation periods, we would normally assume that this is a new infection and you will need to start the isolation process again unless you tested positive for COVID-19 previously. Please contact the Centralised Absence Reporting Line on 01752 430000.
6. I have tested positive for coronavirus, what do I do now?
You will need to self-isolate for 7 days from the start of your symptoms. As long as you are feeling better by day 8 you may return to work. The cough may persist but this does not require you to continue your isolation. Please call the Centralised Absence Reporting Line on 01752 430000
7. I have recently tested positive for COVID-19, I am now back to work but have new symptoms, what should I do?
If you have recently tested positive for COVID-19, isolated for 10 days and recovered from symptoms, but now have new symptoms of cough and/or fever it is very unlikely that these symptoms are due to a new infection of COVID-19 coronavirus. If you feel too unwell to work please contact the Centralised Absence Reporting Line on 01752 430000, however you will not be required to self-isolate as a possible coronavirus case.
8. A family member has tested positive for coronavirus, what should I do?
You will be required to self-isolate as a household for 14 days from the onset of the household member’s symptoms. Your family member must isolate for 10 days. On day 15 you may return to work as long as you have not had symptoms (if you develop symptoms, see below). Please call the Centralised Absence Reporting Line on 01752430000.
9. I am at work and have developed a new continuous cough and/or raised temperature, what should I do?
You must self-isolate immediately. Please leave the hospital by a quiet and well-ventilated route (preferably outside), drive yourself home and follow the advice above. Once home please contact the Centralised Absence Reporting Line on 01752430000. If you do not drive please ask a household member to collect you.
10. A family member is self-isolating, am I fit to work?
No. Current guidance from the Government advises you to self-isolate as a household for 14 days from the day of the household member’s first symptom. On day 15 you may return to work as long as you have not had symptoms (if you develop symptoms, see below). Please call the Centralised Absence Reporting Line on 01752430000.
11. I developed symptoms during the 14 day isolation, what do I do?
You will need to self-isolate for 10 days, even if this adds up to more or less than 14 days in total. You can return to work from day 11 of your symptoms as long as you feel better. If you are likely to be absent for longer than initially planned, or you are fit to return before the end of 14 days, please contact the Centralised Absence Reporting Line on 01752430000
12. I have already isolated for 14 days and been at work for a week, now another family member has symptoms, do I need to isolate again?
Unfortunately, yes. The problem is that we cannot be sure which family member actually has COVID-19. If you come into work, you may be passing on the virus. Please contact the Central Absence Reporting Line on 01752430000 to discuss the situation. Your family member may be eligible for testing, although this decision needs to be made by the testing team.
13. I am required to self-isolate but I feel that I am fit to work from home, what can I do?
Please contact your line manager as they may have work you can complete from home.
15. Am I eligible for staff testing?
Testing is available to all members of staff who have either ‘classic’ COVID-19 symptoms (fever, persistent cough) or anyone with new symptoms that they are worried about, that might reasonably be attributed to COVID-19. Some examples might include otherwise unexplained: fatigue; shortness of breath; myalgia (muscle aches), sore throat, diarrhoea, loss of taste/smell or a rash (particularly on the feet). Please contact the CAR Hub (01752430000) if you believe that you need to be tested and ensure that you remain off work until you have been tested negative.
16. How accurate is the current swab testing?
The current test used is an antigen test, which detects viral RNA from a nose and throat swab. Currently, due to the speed of the outbreak and the need to develop testing, there is limited data about the accuracy of the test. They are believed to have a very low false positive rate, but a higher false negative rate (“missed positive cases”), although accuracy will also depend upon timing of the test (more accurate if you have symptoms) and the user.
17. How can I practice ‘Social Distancing’ when I have to come to work?
The Government have been very clear that there are some groups who are partially exempt from the Social Distancing requirements. As Key Workers (or Critical Workers) we all have a part to play in treating those patients infected with COVID-19, caring for other non-COVID patients and ultimately in tackling this outbreak. Good hand washing and respiratory hygiene is absolutely vital at work; if your work permits you should try to be 2m apart from others, although clearly this is seldom possible in clinical environments. Outside of work, you should be observing all the Government’s Social Distancing measures to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
Risk and Healthcare Workers
It is not possible to eliminate all risk and as Critical Workers in caring for those with Coronavirus we are likely to have to accept a little more risk than non-critical workers who are isolating at home. However, we must avoid unnecessarily high-risk behaviours and reduce risk to as low as reasonably practicable. What is reasonably practicable will, to some extent, depend upon the scale of the outbreak, the resources available and Government guidance. Most people are worried about the consequences of Coronavirus on themselves or others. Although this is understandable, as different people’s idea of risk varies hugely, it must be remembered that the vast majority of people who get the virus will have a mild illness which can be managed at home over 7 days or so. There are conditions that put certain people at higher risk of developing more severe illness and these are highlighted below and, in more detail, in the Staff Risk Assessment document.
1. What steps are being taken to reduce risk in the hospital?
As with other Hospitals, the Trust is taking steps to reduce the risk to staff, patients and visitors. These steps include: segregating non-COVID, suspected COVID and confirmed COVID cases with increasing PPE requirements in each Zone; reducing movement of patients between wards; providing greater training for staff in higher risk areas; enhancing cleaning and decontamination regimes throughout the hospital; reducing non-essential patient visits to outpatients and other departments; reducing the number of patient visitors; enforcing strict hand washing and good respiratory hygiene amongst staff, patients and visitors.
2. I think I might be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus, what should I do?
You must complete the Staff Risk Assessment document. This will help to put you into either of three risk categories. No increased risk, increased risk and highest risk. The steps to follow in each of these cases are discussed in the document and you should discuss this with your manager. If you or your manager disagrees with, or needs further advice regarding the risk assessment, please contact the Occupational Health Adviceline (email@example.com).
3. I have an extremely vulnerable family member who is required to be ‘Shielded’, should I be coming to work?
Where possible, yes. There is good Government guidance on how to reduce the risk of exposing vulnerable family members to COVID-19 infection. The main actions are strict hand-washing when leaving work, entering your house and whenever you are in close contact with that family member. Always try to keep 2m apart, avoid spending time with them in shared spaces and keep the home well ventilated. Your vulnerable family member should, if possible, have access to their own bathroom and always use separate towels for bathing and handwashing. Thorough and regular cleaning of all surfaces in the house, especially in kitchens and bathrooms is essential and your family member should not share their bed with anyone during Shielding. By observing good social distancing wherever possible you will also reduce the risk to them. Some staff have found it useful to shower at work prior to driving home. Remember to wash your uniform or work clothes thoroughly and never wear your work clothes home. Finally, some members of staff may prefer to reduce the risk to their family member by utilising funded hospital accommodation, to apply for this please send your and your line manager’s details, along with a brief reason, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staff Shielding Risk Assessment Tool & Training
You will be aware that the national guidance for individuals who have been shielding has recently changed. The Coronavirus Staff Risk Assessment Tool has been updated in line with the latest national guidance, to support line manager discussions with colleagues who are currently shielding. This new tool is being piloted here and in other organisations, and the Occupational Health Team will update the tool as necessary, taking into account any further changes in national guidance and your feedback on using the tool. There is also some supporting guidance for managers and both of these can be accessed here:
- Coronavirus Staff Health Risk Assessment Form (V.1 July 2020)
- Coronavirus Staff Assessment Form Guidance
Whilst we need to continue to review risk assessments previously undertaken on an ongoing basis; for example where circumstances change, line managers do not, however, need to immediately repeat any risk assessments (for non-shielding colleagues). Any new risk assessments should be completed using the new updated (July 2020) Staff Risk Assessment tool.
Training - To support line managers with the process for risk assessing staff who are shielding, a series of Briefing MS Teams calls (which will last for around 30 minutes each), will be take place during next week, with Dr Furzeland of our Occupational Health Team and a member of the HR team.
Staff sickness- Pay & HR
1. I am self-isolating, do I still get paid?
Yes. Self-isolation will be recorded as special leave with full pay, i.e. the pay that colleagues would normally receive, in line with our local payroll procedure. Self-isolation special leave will be considered as a temporary additional entitlement, separate to any existing policies. It is possible that in certain circumstances staff may require more than one period of self-isolation, in these cases the arrangements described will apply to each period of self-isolation.
2. I have a child/dependent that is required to self-isolate, do I still get paid?
For NHS staff with carer responsibilities, we understand from the Local Authority that sufficient provision is in place for schooling/childcare facilities within Plymouth and the surrounding area. The on-site nursery, Happy Days has also expanded its normal provision. However, should colleagues have difficulties with any type of care arrangements which affects work, please talk with your line manager who will undertake to find alternative options with you. This may involve remote working or time shifting of your work, for example.
3. Do I have to discuss my medical history with the CAR Line?
No. There is no legal requirement to reveal any confidential medical information. There should be no requirement to reveal any more than you would for your normal sickness reporting. If there is any need to discuss your history in more detail, you can request to speak to Occupational Health. If any clarification is required Occupational Health may get in touch to discuss specifics (these will not be revealed to Management without your consent)
4. I am well and my family are not isolating but in light of Government advice, should I be in work?
We have had quite a few questions about who should come to work in light of the Government advice on the 23rd March. The advice is clear that key workers includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector. Unless otherwise advised, staff should therefore be reporting to work as normal. Line managers have been asked to work through who absolutely needs to be working in the hospital, and who can work remotely. We have to balance supporting safe care of patients with the need to reduce footfall, the number of contacts and thereby limit the risk of spreading the virus. If you are able to work remotely and can agree this with your line manager, you do need to make sure that you keep in touch with your manager/team, keep reading the Daily Covid-19 Bulletins and be ready to come back to work at any time.
5. I’m anxious about being in work during a lockdown period, what should I do?
Please discuss how you feel with your line manager, so they have the opportunity to understand your concerns. This may involve completing a risk assessment and involvement of the Occupational Health team if you have underlying health issues or you have vulnerable people at home. The National position for the NHS is that we need to continue to support our patients and keep our essential to be at work staff, well at work, so discussions around what work is possible and appropriate are very important. Your manager will talk through possible options with you and personal support services which are detailed on the Support Hub.
6. Is accommodation available?
We have been working with local partners to ensure there is sufficient accommodation in close proximity to the hospital for those who may not be able to return to their usual home address. Should you wish to use Trust accommodation, in the first instance please discuss if this is strictly necessary with your line-manager. If your line-manager is supportive, please email the accommodation team on email@example.com with the following information:
- Telephone Number
- Job Title
- Line Manager’s name
- Reason for request for accommodation
The accommodation team will respond to any requests as quickly as possible. Please note that requests will be assessed and prioritised according to risk assessment guidance.
7. I’m working remotely, how do I access IT support?
The IT department has been working to ensure remote access and working from home:
- NHSMail: Available from anywhere on any device via https://portal.nhs.net/.
- Clinical staff: Remote access is available for Citrix Desktop (formally ADF) from any internet connection using a personal computer. Details on how to register and configure access are available.
- Full Remote IT Access: Access to all Trust systems can be obtained on a Trust computer or laptop using Aruba Via. Please note, you must request remote access via the IT Service Desk and you must also set up your remote access for the first time within the Trust’s network. If you are taking a PC home, you will also need a network cable long enough to reach from your PC to your home broadband router and other peripheral items including keyboard, mouse and monitor.
The Trust has a finite number of laptops and mobiles available. The deployment of such devices will now be rationalised to ensure they are used to support critical processes. Requests are to be coordinated through the Care Group Management Structure who will contact the IM&T Service desk to progress the request.
Microsoft Teams is now available to the NHS. All Trust users now have access via the NHSmail web portal https://portal.office.com/. Being cloud based access is anywhere, at any time, from any device. Further guidance and information can be found here: NHS Teams Guidance
8. My school is asking for evidence that I am an NHS key worker, what can I give them?
Schools are being asked by the government to continue to provide care for a limited number of children – including children whose parents/guardians are key workers and are critical to the response to COVID-19 and/or cannot be safely cared for at home. Key workers include all health and social care workers (frontline staff, volunteers, support and specialist staff) and only one parent/guardian is required to be a key worker to qualify for a child to continue to attend school. This letter should be given should your childcare provider require evidence.
The process for accessing school for key worker staff has been for schools to contact parents and ask them to identify whether they require a place for their child, and asking for evidence of key worker status as needed. They are emphasising that the government guidance is that if a child has an option to remain at home this would be the safest thing, so for example if you are a key worker but you are able to work from home, or have a partner or family member able to be at home, that would be a valid reason for asking children to remain at home. It’s really only for those who have to go into work and have no alternative childcare.
If staff have queries about specific schools they should contact them direct. The LA also has an email inbox and team answering COVID queries related to children’s services - firstname.lastname@example.org
9. What other childcare support is there?
Happy Days Day Nursery have told us that they will be offering childcare provision from Monday 23 March and for the coming months. The nursery is open from 7am – 7pm and caters for children from 3 months to 5 years, however, given the exceptional situation we are currently experiencing and to help support families with school aged children we are extending the offer to children up to and including 6 years old. If the requirement is for emergency care or on a permanent basis, please contact Happy Days Support Centre by email on email@example.com.
Tops Day Nurseries in Plymouth (Stonehouse & Devonport) are open for children from 0-5 from 6am until 8pm. Subject to places being available they can also cater for children aged 5-11. They will give priority to children of parents working in the NHS and Emergency Services. Please contact them directly at Harriet.Pacey@topsdaynurseries.co.uk
10. Can I talk about Coronavirus on Social Media?
If you use social media, just take a moment to think even more carefully than normal, how you use it at this time. Please think about how what you say and share might affect others. Will it reassure or alarm? Will it help? Is it kind? What is your intent when sharing it? Please remember as NHS staff, you are in a position of trust. Please use social media professionally and in line with the code from your professional bodies and our own social media policy. Post and share wisely. Please also think about how scrolling through social media affects you. How does it make you feel? Is it helping or harming you? How do you control your use of social media?
11. I have been unable to take all my annual leave due to Coronavirus, will I lose it?
For all staff, regular annual leave breaks are an important part of maintaining health and wellbeing. The coronavirus is taking us into unchartered territory which requires us all to be both responsible and responsive so that we can take care of ourselves and our patients.
We are asking that line managers continue to have discussions with colleagues to plan annual breaks from now through to the end of the annual leave year, so that all colleagues have some rest periods planned, which also helps prevent a bottleneck of requests later, which then may be difficult to grant.
As the coronavirus situation further unfolds, we know that there could be some disruption to annual leave and so where it has not been reasonably practical for staff to have taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement, due to operational reasons and as a result of the effects of coronavirus, there will be greater flexibility to carry leave from one leave year to the next during the course of the next 2 years.
Please reflect on when you last had a break, how you feel now, and if your department can accommodate you taking leave over the coming weeks, then please arrange this. It's important we look after ourselves and each other, so we can maintain our own wellbeing and continue to care for patients in these unusual times.
12. Staff in receipt of their NHS Pension Scheme benefits
We welcome the outcome of the Coronavirus Bill, which suspends the current Pension Regulations and removes barriers which would prevent otherwise able retired members from returning to work while continuing to receive their pension. It now allows for staff to return immediately after retirement, and continue their existing working commitments, or increase them, whilst they are in receipt of their full pension benefits, without abatement. Similarly, the Trust will suspend its two week break between retirement and return, and move to a 24 hrs break, in certain cases, during the crisis. More pension scheme information can be found on the NHS employers website.
13. What about staff who return to work during maternity/adoption/shared parental leave, or end their leave early?
The NHS offers generous occupational maternity, adoption, and shared parental leave pay, well above statutory levels. However, for staff who choose to work when they would otherwise be on leave, it is important that they do not lose their contractual entitlement. Staff can work up to ten keeping in touch (KIT) days while on maternity or adoption leave, without bringing their maternity/adoption leave to an end. Staff on shared parental leave can work up to 20 shared parental leave in touch (SPLiT) days without ending their shared parental leave. This means that many employees will have access to up to 30 days where they can work, without bringing their paid family-related leave entitlements to an end. There is now a provision available to allow line managers to consider further flexible options where staff do not lose out on their contractual entitlements, should they be able to return earlier than planned to assist in the pandemic. The terms and conditions can be found on the NHS Employers website. Please contact your line manager if you wish to discuss this further. Additionally the HR team are able to provide further advice around this via firstname.lastname@example.org
14. How can I raise any concerns I might have during Covid-19?
We want to reassure all staff that despite the challenging circumstances we are dealing with currently, and facing ahead, Freedom to Speak Up Guardians are still available to listen to any concerns you have. If there is something troubling you about our response to Covid-19, our expectations as a trust, or the quality of care that we are providing, and you feel unable to raise it with a senior member of staff, please contact us. We are here to listen about anything, Covid-19 related or not. We are still in office on Tuesday (Catherine Lemsalu) and Friday (Pippa Jephcott) and available to reach by phone (Ext.33381), Email email@example.com or through the comments box on the Staffnet link. We can also be available for face to face meetings on zoom. Please share with your colleagues. #F2SU #StillListening
Staff exposure & travel
1. I have recently returned from a trip to a ‘specified area’
For the most up-to-date guidance, call the Centralised Absence Reporting Line on 01752430000.
2. I have had contact (within 2 metres for 15 minutes) with a suspected case or their body fluids or with an aerosol-generating procedure without PPE
If you do not have symptoms you can remain at work. If the person subsequently tests positive, your ward manager will compile a list of those staff that were potentially exposed. If you develop symptoms within 14 days of the exposure please call the Centralised Absence Reporting Line (01752430000) and let them know that you had a potential exposure, you will be contacted shortly after with more information.
3. I have had contact (within 2 metres for 15 minutes) with a confirmed case or their body fluids, or with an aerosol-generating procedure without PPE
If you do not have symptoms you can remain at work. Your ward manager will compile a list of those staff that were potentially exposed. If you develop symptoms you will need to self-isolate for 10 days, please call the Centralised Absence Reporting Line (01752 430000) and let them know of your potential exposure and you will be contacted shortly after with more information.
4. I have had contact (within 2 metres for 15 minutes) with a confirmed case outside of work
If you do not have symptoms you can remain at work. If you develop symptoms you will need to self-isolate for 10 days and contact the Centralised Absence Reporting Line (01752 430000). You can return to work on day 11 as long as you feel well enough.
5. A member of my household has returned to the UK and needs to quarantine for 14 days, do I need to self-isolate as well?
The Government advice is that you do not need to self-isolate unless the individual returning to the UK develops symptoms of coronavirus.
Support available to UHP colleagues
We recognise this is an anxious time for colleagues and have created a support hub detailing the range of measures available to support colleagues, including those experiencing emotional distress.