The national picture in relation to the pandemic has changed with the advent of the Omicron variant and its prevalence in communities. This variant of Covid-19 is highly contagious, much more so than previous variants, and has already been detected in PCR test samples provided by our staff. Increasing rates of sickness among our staff is the major risk to the delivery of care at CUH as we head into the winter period. Nationally, the response measures have been stepped up and some control measures reinstated. The Trust is once again, therefore, ‘tightening its measures in order to reduce footfall on site and to keep staff, patients, and others safe.
All staff must therefore please continue to:
- Work from home wherever possible. Managers to check-in with their staff on a regular basis to provide support and to monitor wellbeing
- Operate a rota system within teams for remote and onsite working to minimise footfall onsite and allow social distancing measures in offices
- Wear face masks at all times on site, unless they are alone in an office, or whilst eating or drinking
- Maintain a two-metre distance between themselves and others. See separate guidance below on social distancing
- Carry out regular testing for Covid and not come to work if displaying Covid symptoms or where the test result is positive
- Ensure frequent handwashing and surface cleaning
- Carry out a local Covid secure environment health and safety risk assessment for their workplace and keep it under regular review
Other Trust Covid guidance
- Meetings should continue to be virtual wherever possible
- Where virtual meetings are not possible, face to face ‘essential’ meetings (ie those that are necessary for operational and business continuity, safe facility management or regulatory requirements) are permitted under these conditions:
- Social distancing must be maintained
- Masks must be worn
- Meeting rooms should not exceed the maximum occupancy stated on the poster displayed on the outside of the venue
- Carry out hand hygiene where possible before and after a meeting
Groups of staff attending social events and subsequently becoming infected with Covid-19 seriously compromises our ability to provide safe patient care, and puts other colleagues under additional pressure. While we recognise that staff members can meet socially, we would strongly advise against gatherings or any situation which would potentially lead to whole teams needing to isolate. There have already been a number of incidents that required team members to isolate.
- On-site events are not permitted (this includes events such as conferences, talks, on-site social gatherings)
- Drop-in events are not permitted (this includes events such as cake stalls)
- External events (off-site and third party events, such as ceremonies, conferences, graduations) – take precautions to minimise risk to yourself and others. For example, avoid large numbers of staff from the same area attending at the same time where possible, check whether the event is being held in a Covid secure way, wear a face mask
- Work-related social events off-site including Christmas parties – consider what it would mean for our patients and other staff members if groups of staff couldn’t come to work. Take steps to minimise the risks. See further guidance below
- Information events/union stalls are not permitted
- All training must be held virtually (ie Teams, Zoom) where possible
- Only ‘essential’ face to face training is permitted. This includes mandatory and clinical skills training and any other face to face training where failure to provide it will create a greater risk to the organisation from having an unskilled or incompetent workforce and where there is a practical element that requires staff to participate in person
- It is the responsibility of trainers to organise training sessions in a way that minimises risk
- All staff taking part in training should take a lateral flow test before attending (in addition to regular testing via the asymptomatic testing programme)
- Further information is available in the Covid-19 classroom training guidelines
- Only ‘essential’ external visitors (eg non-patient visitors and contractors) are permitted on site ie those that are necessary for operational and business continuity, safe facility management or regulatory requirements (and where it cannot be performed remotely). Where you are unsure if the visit is ‘essential’ escalate to your Bronze command or senior management team
- A ‘responsible officer’ must be identified who will be accountable for the visit/activity. A checklist is available here and must be completed for each visit/activity to ensure it is performed safely and in line with Covid-19 secure requirements
- Further information can be found in the Trust’s Managing Contractors Policy
- For patient visitors, please refer to the Trust’s patient visiting guidance
One way system
- The one way system will remain in place in the Concourse. Please continue to set a good example to others and follow the route.
Guidance for work related social events, including staff Christmas parties
In planning events, such as staff Christmas parties, the person planning the event is responsible for taking all reasonable measures to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission and the impact on patient services, should staff require self-isolation. Staff members who are symptomatic, or who have a family member who has tested positive, or is self-isolating, should not attend any social event.
The following principles continue to apply when making choices about the events we plan and those we attend:
1. Minimise the risk of entire key groups of staff having to self-isolate, which then impacts on the team’s ability to deliver services.
What this means:
- Whole specialties/services/departments/teams should not plan to attend the same party
2. Consider and plan the events in a way that minimises the risk of catching or transmitting Covid-19.
What this means:
- All attendees should undertake a lateral flow test shortly before attending and if positive, should not attend
- Covid-19 secure measures should be maintained, such as frequent cleaning, hand sanitising and social distancing
- Please consider the duration of the event – shorter is best
- Venue capacity needs to be appropriate for the number of people attending and good ventilation is required – outside is even better
3. Consider what it would mean for our patients and other staff members if groups of staff within a specialty/service could not come to work.
What this means:
- If everyone who attended the event was unable to attend work due to isolation measures, and if this would mean the closure of a service, then the event should not go ahead
- Especially for critical specialties, please make a plan for what you would do in the event that there was transmission of Covid at your event i.e. plan with named individuals who could staff rotas for the coming days, taking booked leave into account
Guidance on social distancing
What steps do we need to take to maintain social distancing in the workplace?
Every effort must be made to keep people 2 metres (6 and a half feet) apart at all times, including in communal rest areas and during work breaks.
Steps that usually will be needed include:
- reviewing layouts and processes/reconfiguring seating and desks to allow staff to work further apart from each other
- managing occupancy levels to enable social distancing
- creating additional space by using other parts of the workplace or building that have been freed up by remote working
- using floor markers or visual markers to help people comply with social distancing
- avoiding the use of hot desks/spaces and where not possible, cleaning and sanitising workstation between different occupants including shared equipment
- use of one-way systems where reasonably practicable to do so
Where 2 metre social distancing is not possible
Where 2 metres is not possible, the following mitigating factors must be considered and implemented where reasonably practicable to do so:
- Stopping the activity
- Further increasing the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning
- Using screens or barriers to create a physical barrier between people
- Keeping the activity time to as short as possible
- Using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face to face)
- Using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ (also known as ‘bubbles’) to reduce the number of people each person has contact with and keeping teams as small as possible
- Limiting the movement of people around the department eg considering if staff/patients can stay in one place or at one workstation
- Marking the floor of areas to show where people should stand and what direction they should face
- Limiting the amount of different equipment or surfaces that people need to touch.