NHS announces changes to Covid rules at GP surgeries and hospitals

NHS England has announced changes to Covid rules in line with new guidance from the UK Health Security Agency. It means patients and staff no longer need to follow social distancing when seeing their doctor, sitting in the waiting area or visiting a hospital.

The move will see NHS organisations “return to pre-pandemic physical distancing in all areas” although people are still encouraged to wear face masks. The updated guidance also covers emergency departments and other hospital settings, ambulances and patient transport services.

It also recommends the relaxation of isolation requirements for hospital inpatients. The latest change comes amid a warning from some health leaders that infection control measures were hampering the NHS’s ability to cut the record 6.2 million treatment waiting list in England, reports Mirror Online.

The letter from Sir David Sloman, NHSE’s chief operating officer, Stephen Powis, national medical director and Duncan Burton, deputy chief nursing officer, said: “With the pressure from Covid-19 continuing, we are setting out a way forward on a number of areas where guidance has evolved throughout the pandemic; adapting the way that the NHS operates with Covid-19 in general circulation and with the virus likely to remain endemic for some time to come.

“All patients, visitors and staff should continue to practise good hand and respiratory hygiene, including the continued use of face masks by staff and face masks/coverings by visitors and patients where clinically tolerated.”

The isolation period for hospital inpatients with Covid-19 can now be reduced from 10 days to seven if they have two negative lateral flow tests. The tests must be taken on two consecutive days from day six of the isolation period onwards, and the patient must also show “clinical improvement”. Inpatients considered to be contacts of people with Covid-19 also no longer have to isolate if they are asymptomatic.


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