COVID-19 (coronavirus) staff frequently asked questions
For full up-to-date staff information on COVID-19 please visit the NHS website.
Please see this helpful video for more information.
For guidance by specialty on management of patients during this time, please see here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/secondary-care/other-resources/specialty-guides/
For information on how we are looking after your wellbeing during this difficult time, please see this document: Staff-Wellbeing-Offer-14072020
The self-isolation period has been extended to 10 days for those in the community who have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or a positive test results. To read the full statement click here.
What is COVID-19 and should I be concerned?
A COVID-19 is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world.
Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a new illness which can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus. The symptoms of coronavirus are:
- A new, continuous cough.
- A high temperature.
- Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.
What do I do if I suspect I may have COVID-19?
Stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms. Under current guidance, you should stay at home for 10 days if you have either:
- A high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
- A new, continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly
- Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms.
If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.
If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.
Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home and testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home.
Staff should also contact their manager and email the Occupational Health Team (OH) on Covid19.firstname.lastname@example.org to see if you are eligible for staff testing. Additional information can be found here. There is a requirement for the staff member to contact OH again prior to returning to work to enable a risk assessment to be undertaken, to ensure it is safe for them to return. Absence will be recorded as special leave/medical suspension, to ensure staff are paid during the period of self-isolation.
What is the process for swabbing patients for COVID-19?
On the advice of microbiology, for COVID-19 testing you are no longer required to take a left and right nose swab along with a left and right throat swab (four swabs in total), one swab for nose and one swab for throat will be sufficient (two swabs).
Please ensure that all swabs taken for COVID-19 testing are double-bagged and taken by hand to the pathology laboratory. The airtube must not be used under any circumstance for these samples.
How do I care for a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 (coronavirus) patient?
Please follow this flow chart for guidance on case management: Management of a suspected case of COVID-19
What do I need to know if I am a member of staff Shielding/Isolating?
This note is intended to give further guidance to those who have been shielding or isolating as a consequence of COVID risks for some time.
Staff “shielding” are those who are clinically extremely vulnerable are at high risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus (COVID-19). They should have received a letter advising them to shield from PHE. This group have been advised to stay at home and avoid contact as much as possible. Whilst updated guidance has been promised by the Government, it has yet to be published. The Trust therefore continues to advise those people to work from home. We will not change our position until Government advice changes, but will contact staff in this position when it does.
Staff “isolating” will have been advised to do so following a formal risk assessment, where no other appropriate adjustments are possible to enable them to undertake their role on site. They will probably fall into one of the following groups:
- Over 70
- Are pregnant
- Have underlying health conditions
We are currently reviewing the original risk assessment undertaken, in light of additional guidance we have received since the start of the COVID incident and changes that we are making to working environments on our hospital sites, notably the creation of green pathways, where COVID risk is minimised. Staff isolating should receive further guidance on their working arrangements from their line manager in the next two weeks.
There should be regular dialogue between staff shielding and isolating and their line managers. Any staff who feel isolated or have other concerns, should access the wellbeing support.
There will be other staff working at home, because they are able to undertake their duties there and government advice to employers is to maximise home working.
If any staff are uncertain about what they should be doing, their first point of contact should be their line manager.
Hospital planning and processes
Are visiting times changing in our hospitals?
Friends and family are able to visit their loved ones on wards at Lincoln and Boston hospitals.
This is possible by booking a visiting slot in advance, so that numbers of people on wards can be closely managed whilst the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing.
To be able to carry out the medically urgent and cancer surgeries at Grantham, we need to maintain a COVID free Green site, which means visiting remains suspended on wards at Grantham hospital.
All visitors should adhere to the following advice:
- All visitors must book an appointment in advance by contacting the ward where their loved one is staying between 8am and 2pm. Contact numbers for each ward can be found on the Trust’s website.
- There will be a maximum of one visitor per patient per day, except at end of life or other exceptional situation when two visitors may be considered if social distancing can be maintained. This decision rests with the nurse in charge.
- Social distancing must be maintained and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks must be worn as directed.
- People must not visit if they have any symptoms of COVID-19 (a high temperature, a new persistent cough, loss of taste or smell).
- Visitors must also consider whether someone in their home who may be shielding or in a high risk vulnerable group may be at risk if others from the household visit.
Visitors should read the Visiting during COVID-19 Information Leaflet FINAL 09-07-20 which explains all of the arrangements and precautions.
What is the guidance around discharging patients from hospitals?
For information about our single point of access for discharge, please see this document: SB Newsletter.pdf
There are now 16 step-down COVID-19 positive beds available in Appletrees Care and Reablement Centre in Grantham. Patients will be medically optimised and no longer require care in an acute or community hospital setting. Patients will become a temporary resident of a Grantham practice with medical support from a GP in hours. The pathway is not available for Covid-19 negative patients, or those awaiting a swab result, children under the age of 18 years and patients whose needs can be met by a discharge pathway.
Can loved ones contact friends and relatives in hospital? How can staff support this?
With changes to visiting across our hospitals relatives and families will have added anxiety about their loved one in hospital as they cannot get the regular updates they may have done at visiting time. With ward staff not meeting relatives they cannot be assured who is on the telephone when they ring for information and are subsequently following confidentiality guidance and limiting the information they give.
Under normal circumstances if a relative was unable to visit or a patient was vulnerable or lacked capacity a password system would be set up; this would involve identifying an agreed word password between the patient and the family member; a mutually recognised word; again this cannot be managed under current restrictions.
Where can we find more information about end of life care and palliative patients?
All staff please find the up to date clinical resources for end of life care and palliative patients. This information is updated daily.
You will find resources on ReSPECT conversations and its completion, difficult conversations, care of the dying person, and updated symptom management guidance in line with expected shortages of drugs and syringe drivers.
As always please utilise your SPC team for complex support on 07442531744 for Pilgrim, bleep 3977 at Lincoln and Grantham via Hospice in a Hospital.
Will we be using telephone and e-consultations?
The plan is to transition all specialties from face-to-face appointments to telephone consultations and video consultations.
To enable the transition we need you to identify a clinical lead for each specialty and make the clinical teams aware that booked patients will need reviewing to determine who can be seen via video consultations and telephone consultations or if necessary, any patients that still require face to face attendance.
(Expectation for the clinical lead, to support the transition, be the clinical point of contact for service, to help identify patient cohorts and specific patients that can be transitioned to video consultations and telephone consultations).
Guidance and support for clinicians will be available from the outpatient teams during the transition.
A full triage of all clinic rooms has been undertaken to determine the IT equipment required to support video consultation.
The outpatient teams will be in contact to discuss further and to register for video consultation. If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact either:
- Clare Frank – Project Manager.
- Leanne Poole – Outpatient Transformation Lead.
- Michael Frisby – Outpatient Operational Manager.
What do I do if a patient with COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 comes into my service?
Plans have been developed that describe COVID-19 positive, or suspected COVID-19 patients, and this includes criteria that will help separate those that are highly likely and those that are only symptomatic. If you are unsure then you should discuss this with the leader of your department or area who will have your local procedure available to discuss.
What do I do if a patient with or with suspected COVID-19 needs resuscitation?
Resuscitation Council UK is continuously monitoring new information as it becomes available, and will update their advice accordingly as developments unfold. They fully support good hand hygiene and other preventive measures as per guidance from the government.
- If you are performing CPR in a healthcare setting, please read our statement entitled Resuscitation Council UK Statement on COVID-19 in relation to CPR and resuscitation in healthcare settings
- If you are performing CPR in a public setting, please read our statement entitled Resuscitation Council UK Statement on COVID-19 in relation to CPR and resuscitation in first aid and community settings
- If you are seeking specific advice on paediatric and child CPR, please read our statement entitled Resuscitation Council UK Statement on COVID-19 in relation to CPR and resuscitation in Paediatrics
- If you are teaching resuscitation or first aid techniques to healthcare professionals or members of the public, please read our statement entitled Resuscitation Council UK Statement on COVID-19 in relation to CPR and resuscitation for those teaching resuscitation techniques
Where do I go for advice?
NHS 111 has an online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and advise you what to do.
Internally, our infection prevention and control team can provide advice on FIT testing, COVID-19 testing and caring for patients with suspected COVID-19. Call them on 573152.
Are we locking down some of the doors on our sites?
For security reasons some of our external doors will be locked on a permanent basis from this weekend (March 28/29). Notices will be in place where this has happened. These maps clearly indicate what doors will be affected:
FIT testing and PPE
Remember the biggest impact we can all have to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is the appropriate use of PPE following the Public Health England guidance (https://bit.ly/39Bj7IB), washing your hands and adhering to social distancing at all times.
New infection prevention and control (IPC) measures
ALL ULHT staff need to be aware that, following updated Government guidance, face masks must be worn in ALL hospital settings from Monday 14 September unless you are a lone worker.
This includes ALL Trust office accommodation, including offices away from our hospital sites, and includes where staff are 2 metres+ apart. The only exception is where someone is working alone in an office.
We are aware that, in some areas, risk assessments have been carried out previously which have allowed for staff to not wear masks when seated in an office environment. This new guidance negates these risk assessments.
From Monday, face masks should be worn by all staff in any healthcare area irrespective of social distancing. This is in addition to social distancing and hand hygiene for staff, patients/individuals and visitors in both clinical and non-clinical areas, to further reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
The main driver for this change is new Government guidance around COVID-19 secure workplaces, which accounts for the fact that hospital offices contain staff who may interact with other healthcare workers.
If a healthcare worker in an office is working alone they are not a (droplet/aerosol) risk to others providing they wear a mask when they leave the office. However, when multiple people work in or move in/out of an office, even if they are 2m+ apart, an infected person may contaminate their environment and thus be a risk to others.
If you use an entrance where it is not possible to have face masks available, please ensure you take a mask home for use on the following day.
We are aware that this changed guidance may cause concern or distress to some members of our workforce, and we would encourage you to raise concerns through your line manager in the first instance.
Managers are encouraged to work with their teams to ensure this new guidance is followed in full.
When eating or drinking, you should maintain social distancing rules and remove your mask, dispose as offensive waste, and wash your hands for 20 seconds/use alcohol hand rub to sanitise your hands prior to eating. Do not place the face mask on dining tables or nearby surfaces. Once you have finished eating/drinking, you should sanitise your hands again and put on a new facemask to return to workplace. Secure supplies of facemasks and alcohol hand rub will be made available in staff canteen areas.
At the end of your shift you should again dispose of the face mask as offensive waste and sanitise your hands before leaving.
If you have a long term health problem, difficulties breathing, or severe claustrophobia, please discuss this with your line manager and occupational health department who will provide individual advice.
Usage of the appropriate level of personal protective equipment (PPE) in line with the latest guidance from Public Health England must continue in patient facing clinical roles.
A strong focus on excellence in infection prevention and control (IPC) at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust is critical. Wearing a mask does not remove the need for other key IPC measures and you should continue to follow procedures including social/physical distancing, optimal hand hygiene, frequent surface decontamination, ventilation, and other measures where appropriate. Reliance on singular measures to reduce the risk of virus transmission is not sufficient.
The list of Non-Clinical site locations holding masks are shown below:
|A&E Entrance||Main Entrance||Main Entrance|
|Tower Block Entrance||Children’s Community Team
|Porters Lodge||Occupational Therapy
|Mental Health Unit|
|Estates & Facilities|
|Estates and Facilities||Robey House
|Estates & Facilities
|Community Paeds & Doctors|
Information for patients
The guidance also recommends that all visitors and patients coming to hospital for planned care (outpatients) wear face coverings at all times.
Face coverings are different to face masks in that they can be homemade, made of cloth, and be reusable. If a patient or visitor does not have a face covering when they come to hospital, a face covering or mask will be provided by the hospital on arrival.
Patient information on the changes being implemented across the Trust will be made available and communicated to our patient forums. New facility posters will also be posted at all entrances to the hospital to advise of the requirement for a face covering to be worn.
It’s important that we continue to communicate clearly and consistently with patients – both to reassure them that everything is being done for their safety, and so they understand what they need to do when they are coming to hospital.
When booking patients to come to hospital for planned care (outpatients), it is important that the requirements for a face covering are clearly explained during the booking and confirmation process.
A guide with communication tactics for patients and visitors who are deaf or have a hearing impairment and may be impacted by staff wearing masks can also be found on the intranet.
Examples of the PPE we are receiving through the national supply chain can also be found on the intranet.
Further national guidance is available on the government website.
A visual guide to safe PPE is also available below:
Do I need to be FIT tested?
If you are working in an area where you will come into direct contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient, or where you are carrying out aerosol generating procedures on confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, you should have already been contacted about FIT testing. If you are concerned please raise this with a supervisor in your area.
What if I’ve failed FIT testing on a number of different masks?
Several masks are available for FIT testing should you fail, however there are other solutions if you do fail. This is something that our Infection Prevention and Control Team will advise you on if required.
Am I expected to remove my beard?
Having beards will most likely result in a failure of FIT testing. If your beard is something you have for reasons of faith, there is guidance from religious councils and from local faith leaders that may help with your choice around whether to shave or not. If you would like to know more about this or would like to discuss this please contact Reverend David Knight in Chaplaincy on 597717 or 07554 222461.
More information is available in the ‘Chaplaincy & Bereavement Services Standard Operating Procedures for Covid 19.’
When should I consider working from home?
In response to the Prime Minister’s recent announcement, we have asked all staff to continue to come to work including those who work in non-clinical areas. This will enable us to support our clinical areas with increased non-clinical support, as well as to complete our plans for surge response to the COVID-19 incident.
The latest government guidance says:
- If you have symptoms, stay at home for 7 days
- if you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms
- If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.
- If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.
What is the Trust doing about annual leave?
The levels of annual leave taken and booked to date are low and we would now ask all staff and line managers to firm up requests and plans for the rest of the year.
ULHT have a duty of care to staff to ensure that they have reasonable opportunities to request and take annual leave and will work with staff side reps thus ensuring that everyone can take their full annual leave entitlement to support their health and wellbeing.
Are staff being swabbed?
Testing is now open to all ULHT staff and anyone they live with, who have coronavirus-like symptoms.
ULHT staff without symptoms can also be referred, where there is a clinical need based on working in high risk areas judged on a case by case basis.
If you fit the criteria, please e-mail Covid19.email@example.com Occupational Health will then refer you to the national testing portal as a priority. You will receive a text message with a unique invitation code to book a test for yourself (if symptomatic) or their symptomatic household member(s) at a regional testing site. On your email you must please include: Surname, forename, DOB, telephone contact, ward or department, site, e-mail address, date symptoms started
Test results will continue to be sent directly to those tested within 48 hours of a swab being taken and we ask that you inform your manager and Occupational Health at: Occupational.Health@ulh.nhs.uk
What is the process if a member of staff has coronavirus?
If someone is off sick because of coronavirus, then the normal arrangements for managing sickness and sick pay apply. If the absence is longer than 7 days, then the staff member will be required to provide a fit note from the GP. There must be contact with OH before any staff member returns to work, so that a risk assessment can be undertaken.
If you are a bank employee and have evidence that you have booked to undertake shifts but have then to self-isolate, we will pay you for the booked shifts.
If staff are away on holiday and are put under any form of quarantine, then in principle we will continue to pay them whilst they are unable to work. However, if you are planning a holiday, perhaps at Easter and visit an area which the Government advises people not to visit and as a consequence you are unable to attend work, then the Trust will not pay you during your absence.
If you are fit for work, but are self-isolating then we would expect you to undertake tasks assigned to you at home. Your line manager will provide you with guidance on how to access ULHT systems at home and will outline the work that we would wish you to do. Completing core learning, responding to complaints and policy reviews are examples of work that could be done by some staff from home.
Before starting to work at home, a risk assessment will be required and your manager will work through this with you.
What do I do if someone I care for has COVID-19?
If you live with other people that have symptoms, you should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms.
If you live with someone who is at risk, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.This action will help protect others in your community while you are infectious.
NHS 111 has an online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and advise you what to do.
What do I do if I can’t attend work due to caring for dependents due to COVID-19?
There will be some staff who will have to care for dependents who are either ill or are self-isolating.
We have agreed temporarily to extend carers leave to a maximum of 10 days. This will kept under review.
Whilst the Trust will wishes to support staff who have dependents at home, we will ask staff to be as flexible as possible in supporting patient care, by seeking to share caring responsibilities with other family members, or by potentially voluntarily adapting their working hours.
What do I do if my child’s school asks for validation that I work for the NHS in order to get key worker provision?
Following the school closures, Government guidelines say children of ALL NHS staff qualify for key worker school places. If you are asked by your school for validation that you work for the NHS and qualify please send this letter NHS Key Worker Validation – Childcare 20.03.20 along with a photo of your staff ID badge as proof.
What do I do if I am asked for proof of being a key worker?
Please use the attached letter for proof of being a key worker along with your photo ID – NHS Key worker validation end June
How do staff organise accommodation if they need to be away from their homes to be able to work?
Please be aware that all COVID-19 funded accommodation will cease on Friday 31 July. The facilities accommodation team will be in touch with anyone who has enquired about an extension, and inform those currently being funded. Accommodation can still be booked via the Progress Living website following the normal procedure. Details of how to make a booking can be found here: http://ulhintranet/covid-19-hr-queries
If there’s a chance you could have coronavirus, you may be asked to stay away from other people (self-isolate).
- If you have symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), however mild, do not leave your home for 10 days from when your symptoms started.
- If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms.
- If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.This action will help protect others in your community while you are infectious.
- Plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home.
- Ask your employer, friends and family to help you get the things you need to stay at home.
- Stay at least 2 metres (about 3 steps) away from other people in your home if possible.
- Sleep alone, if possible.
- Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water.
- Stay away from vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, as much as possible.
- You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.
Further guidance can be found in the ‘stay at home guidance for employees with confirmed or possible Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.’
What is the process for working from home?
In terms of enabling home working please complete the home access request form and return it to the email address indicated ASAP. This will enable digital services to assess and prioritise requirements. They will then distribute the required instructions and equipment.
IMPORTANT: Please ensure your staff who currently have a laptop take it home after each shift in case they are unexpectedly asked to work from home. They should also test the remote access ASAP as resolving issues whilst not on one of the Trust’s sites could be problematic.
How do I access Microsoft Office 365?
Microsoft Office is being released quickly to allow people to be able to use Office 365 as another way of accessing their work to help with the Covid-19 response. The role out will be targeted to allow individuals with specific needs to work collaboratively.
Teams Virtual Training
There are no more live sessions running at this time but there are recordings of the previous sessions available:
· Recordings for Introduction to Teams and Collaborating with Teams can be found here. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find them. Note, the recording for Running Live Events will be added soon. Please visit the nhs.net support site for further Teams guidance in relation to these recordings.
‘How to’ Guides and Support
If you have been invited to a team then please use the following guides to assist you.
We have created and collated a number of ‘How to’ guides (including from LCHS and Microsoft) which will help you get started with Office 365. We will be regularly updating and adding to these.
What shall I do about my university course?
We will be writing to those who run clinical courses at universities in our vicinity to make them aware that staff may be unable to attend course sessions owing to their need to provide direct patient care. We will ask to be flexible and ensure staff are not penalised.
We will also send a similar letter to all the local universities and colleges to assist any staff undertaking any courses.
How do I record coronavirus on ESR or Health Roster?
Staff who believe they have symptoms of the coronavirus should contact NHS 111 immediately for advice, they should not attend their GP Surgery, a hospital or their workstation. Self-quarantine for the 14 day period will classified as special leave, not sickness absence, however, if diagnosed as coronavirus, then this will be recorded as sickness absence. View the guidance on the COVID-19 intranet page.
Download a guide for Managers reporting of Covid 19 Absence, here.
If you have any HR queries, please email COVID-HRenquiries@ulh.nhs.uk
Is it ok to car share?
Car sharing should be avoided unless it is absolutely necessary, in which case no more than two people should travel together.
Manager support and guidance for the Green Site project
Here is a toolkit to support managers with the staff changes and conversations required in relation to the Green site model at Grantham and District Hospital.