Centralised Absence Reporting Line
Self-isolation guidance: All colleagues must still continue to contact the Centralised Absence Hub (01752 430000) if they have been advised or are aware they are a contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19. Under the updated national guidance, there is an explicit requirement for staff members to inform their employer immediately if they are required to work in the 10 days following their last contact with a COVID-19 case. For UHP staff, this contact is to be made via the Trust’s Centralised Absence Hub. Trained staff will then guide you through a risk assessment.
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.
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
- Guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection
- 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
- Social distancing resources - posters (Staffnet)
Clarification around COVID-19 and working
Updated 23 December 2021
We wanted to clarify two things in relation to updates this week around COVID-19.
- Isolation period for positive staff and when they can return to work
- Working while someone in your household has COVID
A brief explanation of both of these points is below.
In ALL cases, staff who test positive for COVID or have a household contact, must contact the Trust's Centralised Absence Reporting (CAR) Hub on 01752 430000. We have trained advisers here ready to help you and talk you through the process.
1. Reduction in isolation period for positive cases
The Government has reduced the self-isolation for people who are positive for COVID-19 from 10 to 7 days following negative LFD tests and a cessation of symptoms. You can read the full announcement via this link.
Please note this only relates to if you have tested positive for COVID. Positive staff must call the CAR hub and will be advised what to do, including that they can return on day 8 if they are asymptomatic and they have a negative lateral flow. Ongoing reporting will be required; the CAR hub team will explain this to you at the onset of your absence.
2. Changes to management of household contacts for NHS and social care staff and returning to work
Once again, all staff with a positive household must contact the CAR hub. See above.
- We have been looking at the national guidance and looking at a risk assessment to bring people back to work in exceptional circumstances. This will include if they’ve had two vaccinations plus their booster (at least 14 days prior to contact)
- Staff will be required to have alternative days PCR tests and daily lateral flow tests to enable them to come safely back to work. This will take place through the in-house STARhub.
- This will allow us to safely bring back many frontline colleagues each day. The risk assessment is not based around staffing levels on the wards but about the risk that the person returning to work poses to the department, other staff and, most importantly, to patients.
- However, due to how transmissible the Omicron variant is, what we don’t want to do is bring people back to work and cause further issues with wider transmission through staff, leading to even more people going off work feeling unwell. We know that approximately 10% of colleagues who have a household positive will become positive themselves so it is essential we only return when we really need to, and when colleagues do return we do everything we can to keep patients and each other safe.
- Advice will be given regarding not taking breaks with colleagues and the appropriate use of PPE when an individual is released to return.
- No one should be returned without going through the STARhub; a risk assessment needs to be made and ongoing monitoring (including monitoring if any individual subsequently becomes positive themselves) needs to be initiated so we understand the impact of these decisions for individuals and the wider organisation.
- Attendance at the STARhub will be monitored with executive oversight. If colleagues do not attend as required line managers will be contacted to support attendance and ensure their staff members well-being,
You can find a range of personal support via the Staff Support Hub Additionally, national wellbeing services are available to all health and care workers which will compliment some of the excellent support we already have in place, you can find out more here: people.nhs.uk
We encourage you to access these and make use of the support available - this includes our leaders/line managers who are trying to meet competing demands and look after those around them. We encourage you to make time to access support for your self-care too.
Schools and Caring for People
Happy Days Nursery in Building 3 of the Business Park is open to all key workers. If you need childcare for younger children, please contact them to see if they can help on 01752 786318 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
In the event that something happens to change your normal caring arrangements and consequently your ability to work, please speak with your line manager at the earliest opportunity. We are asking line managers to handle these types of situations in a sensitive way, as we understand the worry that this can bring. Line managers will explore avenues such as whether working from home / working more flexibly, can be accommodated for a period of time, or if annual leave/unpaid leave can be put in place. If you experience problems further to this, including any schools not allowing children to return to school, please escalate this to the HR team who will provide further guidance and support in this respect. They can be contacted on telephone : External: 01752 437042 Internal: 37042 or via email at email@example.com
Working from home guidance
Are you one of our colleagues who is working from home/remotely or do you manage someone who is? Please read our Working from home guidance is available to read here which is designed to help and support those working in this way.. Due to the large number of staff now working from home during COVID-19, the Occupational Health department has prepared guidance for staff View the display screen equipment guidance here
Line Managers: please don’t forget to record staff working from home onto Healthroster by selecting the unavailability group, working day and reason “COVID WFH – COVID-19 Working From Home - Limit Risk”. If you do have any issues with this please contact the Operational Resourcing Team – firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would like to remind colleagues to report all absence through our central absence line on telephone 01752 430000 please.
It is likely that vaccination with one dose of vaccine gives a good (but not absolute) level of protection against Coronavirus. The protection builds progressively up to about 3 or 4 weeks after the vaccine was given. The level of protection afforded by the vaccine may be reduced in some with certain underlying conditions (such as immunosuppression) although even a reduced level of protection is very important in this situation.
We do not yet have official guidance on how much to adjust the risk assessment following vaccination and this level of adjustment may vary from person to person in the higher risk groups. For this reason we are not currently advising that the risk assessment should be changed in those who have been vaccinated. We are hoping for further advice soon and, as soon as it is received, we will publish updated advice.
Coronavirus Risk Assessments
The Trust’s most up-to-date Risk Assessment Tool is recommended, in particular, for those who have previously fallen into the moderate or higher risk categories using the previous July 2020 tool (as a new risk category assignment may now be appropriate), or for consideration where there has been a change in underlying health or for staff deploying into a new role. For more guidance please refer to the advice contained within the Risk Assessment tool document. The new form and also the Team Risk Assessment Guide are available on StaffNet via the links below:
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 (email@example.com) regarding fitness to work.
1. My household member is self-isolating as they have been in contact with someone who is COVID positive (including children), am I able to come to work?
You no longer have to wait for a negative PCR test to return to work if you have been a close personal or household contact with somebody with covid. As long as you have a negative LFT result on the same day as returning you can return to your normal role. Please continue to undertake a lateral flow daily for 7 days. During your first shift please visit the STARhub who will carry out a PCR test and you can immediately return to your ward or department.
2. I have difficulties with my care arrangements because I need to care for a child/dependant who is only isolating due to contact with a positive individual. What should I do?
If you have difficulties with any type of care arrangements relating to Covid which affects your ability to attend work, please talk with your line manager who will undertake to find alternative options with you. This may involve remote working from home or time shifting of your work, for example changing your shift to work at other times when you are able to arrange childcare for your child, or taking annual leave/unpaid leave. If you experience problems further to this, including any schools not allowing children to return to school, please escalate this to the HR team who will provide further guidance and support in this respect. They can be contacted on telephone : External: 01752 437042 Internal: 37042 or via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. A member of my household has tested positive for COVID, what should I do?
The legal position on self-isolation has changed and there is no longer a legal reason for people to isolate at home, although there is still a risk for those people coming to work. All staff who test positive for COVID must contact the Centralised Absence Reporting Line on 01752 430000 where you can speak to one of the trained advisers who are ready to help you and talk you through the process.
4. 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 self-isolate and call the Centralised Absence Reporting Line on 01752 430000 who will arrange a COVID PCR test if you have symptoms of COVID infection.
5. My lateral flow test is positive, what should I do?
You should self-isolate. Please call the Centralised Absence Reporting line on 01752 430000 to arrange to have a PCR test.
6. Negative Lateral flow test but feeling unwell?
Please note, if you have had a negative lateral flow test result but you have any symptoms of COVID, you must take a PCR test. A lateral flow test is fine for routine testing of people without symptoms. Anyone with symptoms must take a PCR test. Please call the Centralised Absence Reporting line on 01752 430000 where you can speak to one of the trained advisers who are ready to help you and talk you through the process.
7. Working from Home and Self isolation
Please note that if you are already working from home and are notified by Test & Trace that you need to self-isolate, you do not need to notify the Centralised Absence Reporting Line but should make your line manager aware.
8. I have tested positive for COVID, what do I do now?
Colleagues who have a positive Lateral Flow Test (LFT) must contact the CARhub if they are due to work within the next 10 days. Colleagues should follow the national advice to treat their symptoms and keep themselves and others safe through self-isolation.
Self-isolation can end after 7 days, following 2 negative LFTs taken on days 6 and 7. The first test should not be taken before the 6th day and the tests must be 24 hours apart. The results of the test must be reported using the Trust and/or government website.
9. I have come to the end of my 7 days self-isolation after testing positive for COVID and feel fine
If you tested negative on lateral flow test on day 6 and 7, you are now able to return to work as long as you feel well enough and not had a temperature for 48 hours. A cough or loss of smell symptoms may linger for longer than 7 days but this does not require you to continue to self-isolate.
10. I have come to the end of my 7 days self-isolation after testing positive for COVID and don’t feel any better
You should contact NHS 111 via their website or call. If you are acutely unwell, call 999. Please continue to report ongoing absence to the Centralised Absence Reporting line on 01752 430000.
11. I have recently tested positive for COVID and now back at work, I have developed new possible COVID symptoms, what should I do?
Please self-isolate and call the Centralised Absence Reporting line on 01752 430000 who will talk you through the process. If you test positive, you will need to continue to isolate and take a lateral flow test on day 6 and 7. If they are negative you can return to work on day 8.
12. How accurate is the current swab testing?
The COVID PCR test is an antigen which detects viral RNA from a nose and throat swab. They are believed to have a very low false positive rate, but a higher false negative rate (‘missed positive cases’). The accuracy of the test will also depend upon the timing of the test (more accurate if you have symptoms) and the user.
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 the four risk categories. Low risk, moderate risk and very high 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).
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’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
5. 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?
6. 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.
7. 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
8. 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, Wednesday and Thursday and available to reach by phone (Ext.33381), Email email@example.com. We can also be available for face to face meetings on zoom. Please share with your colleagues. #F2SU #StillListening
9. I have been told to self-isolate via the NHS App but I’m on annual leave, do I get my leave back?
In the case where you are told to self-isolate because you’ve been in contact with someone with Covid but you have no symptoms you can either remain on annual leave for the days that fall during isolation (continue to take your annual leave for a break) or you can chose to step out of annual leave for a period of paid self-isolation (in this case you will get the leave back from the time you notified the central absence hub and stepped out of annual leave during the isolation period). In this latter case, the Trust/line manager may ask you to work from home (where this can be facilitated).
1. I have recently returned from abroad, what should I do?
You should follow the most up-to-date guidance from the government for the country you have visited. If you are required to self-isolate on your return, please inform the Centralised Absence Reporting line on 01752 430000.
2. If I had my COVID vaccination at the Trust, can I get a vaccination certificate from Occupational Health?
You can get a digital NHS COVID Pass showing your coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination or test results. There are 2 ways you can get a digital NHS COVID Pass: You can download and use the NHS App to get your NHS COVID Pass or use the online NHS COVID Pass service. Further information can be found on the NHS COVID Pass webpage
3. I have had contact (within 2 metres for 15 minutes) with a suspected COVID case without PPE in the hospital
If you do not have symptoms, then you can continue to work. If the patient subsequently tests positive for COVID, then a risk assessment should be carried out. Please see below for more advice.
If you develop symptoms, then you will need to self-isolate and get a COVID swab.
4. I have had contact (within 2 metres for 15 minutes) with a confirmed case of COVID in the hospital
A risk assessment questionnaire should be carried out: Healthcare Worker Post-Exposure Survey to COVID-19 Patient.docx Following this, please email your completed questionnaire to Occupational Health at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org and a member of the Test and Trace team will contact you with further advice.
5. I have been in contact with a staff member who has a positive lateral flow test, do I need to self-isolate?
You do not need to self-isolate but you will need to follow up with the contact to get the result of their COVID PCR test. If the person you have had contact with goes on to have a positive RT-PCR COVID test, then you should complete this questionnaire Contact With COVID-19 Positive HCW Risk Assessment.docx and send it to email@example.com. A member of the Test and Trace team will contact you with further advice.
6. I have had contact (within 2 metres 15 minutes) with a confirmed case of COVID outside of work (within the 48 hours of them testing positive or developing symptoms)
If this occurred without any PPE, then you will be required to self-isolate for 10 days. If you develop any symptoms during you isolation period, then please contact the Centralised Absence Reporting line to arrange to have a COVID swab. If you remain asymptomatic, then you can return to work on day 11 after your isolation period has ended.
If you are unsure whether a contact requires self-isolation, then please email firstname.lastname@example.org
This FAQ is designed to answer questions relating to the Wellbeing Day issued to all employees of the Trust as a Thank You for the extraordinary efforts that were, and continue to be made during the Covid response.
1. What is a Wellbeing Day?
The Wellbeing Day is an extra day off work that the Trust has granted to all employees in recognition of the efforts made (and that continue to be made) during the Covid-19 pandemic.
2. What can the Wellbeing Day be used for?
Anything you like! The Trust hopes that this day is used by the employee for any activity that will contribute to their health and wellbeing.
3. When can the Wellbeing Day be used?
The Wellbeing Day can be taken any time between 1st April 2021 and 31st March 2022. The date on which the day can be taken should be agreed with the employee’s line manager (as would normally be the case with annual leave) and would need to be booked and agreed in advance to ensure that adequate staffing can be maintained.
4. Who is eligible for a Wellbeing Day?
All substantive / longer term fixed term contract employees of the Trust who started their work contract with the Trust at any time before 31st March 2021. This is the case no matter what the employee has been doing over the covid period, i.e. working as normal, working from home, shielding etc. The Trust is keen to thank all employees regardless of the way in which they have contributed.
5. I am due to leave the Trust, am I still eligible?
The gesture of a Wellbeing Day is available to take between 1st April 2021 and 31st March 2022 and so to claim this day, staff must be still employed from 1st April 2021. For staff leaving during the 2021/22 leave year, they will need to agree the day on which they take their Wellbeing Day with their manager prior to the last working day with the Trust. If the day is not taken prior to staff leaving the Trust then the day will not be paid in lieu.
6. What if I work non-standard (7.5 hour) days?
The Wellbeing Day will be a full day for each employee regardless of the amount of hours that they work in that day. For example if a shift is 7.5 hours, 12 hours or 5 hours long this is the amount of time that the employee will take off.
7. Will I receive enhancements for the day I take as a Wellbeing Day?
Yes, the Wellbeing Day will attract the same enhancements that would be assigned as if you were taking leave from your yearly annual leave entitlement. This will automatically be applied.
8. Do I have to use all my Annual Leave before taking my Wellbeing Day?
No. The Wellbeing Day is independent of annual leave allocation and should be taken before 31st March 2022.
9. As a line manager, how do I record the Wellbeing Day?
If you have any queries relating to the Wellbeing Day that are not answered above please do not hesitate to contact your Service Line HR Team via the usual channels or via the HR admin team email@example.com who will be pleased to assist with your query.
Given the challenges we are facing right now with COVID and staff absence, we really appreciate staff picking up additional shifts to support their colleagues. Recognising the continued ask of staff, we have reviewed and revised our approach to annual leave carry over and pay incentives. The below incentives apply to all staff in all Agenda for Change staff groups, full and part-time (P/T) and will be in place until Monday 31 January.
- If you have A/L already booked and are willing to defer this to help address the pressures we face, we will pay the shifts you work at overtime rates (which is equivalent to time and half) and credit you with the leave you haven’t taken.
- Any additional hours worked by P/T staff above their contracted hours will be paid at overtime rates
- Any staff who are not currently signed up to the NHS Professionals bank but are willing to work additional hours will be paid at overtime rates for these hours.
- All other staff, such as therapists and helpers, willing to take on additional hours to move into roles outside of their normal scope will be paid at overtime rates
- Staff at Band 8a and above including matrons undertaking additional 355 shifts will be paid at overtime rates for hours worked above their contracted hours
Exceptional Annual Leave Carry Over
We are also offering additional flexibility for staff around annual leave, as we did last year. If you can’t take annual leave due to COVID pressures, please talk to your line manager who will have discretion to approve more than the normal five days of annual leave being carried over from 2021/22 into the next financial leave year (2022/23). More detailed guidance will be sent to line managers.
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.