Updated 30 August 2022

COVID-19 guidance is changing constantly. To help keep you up to date we’ll provide regular updates with summaries of the latest guidance and links to key Trust standard operating procedures (SOPs). Staff and managers may find it helpful to use this update as part of regular staff meetings or huddles.

Infection Prevention and Control - current guidance in summary

Update on mask usage

From 31 August 2022, the mandate for universal mask use will be lifted within the Trust. This will be replaced with local risk assessments and individual transmission based precautions. Staff can continue to wear masks as a personal choice.

Please follow this  link to the standard operating procedure (SOP) and detailed information the use of masks for staff, patients and visitors. This includes temporary reinstatement of universal maks on ward settings suring cases or outbreaks of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections. Staff working in other trusts must comply with local SOPS at these sites. 

Distancing in clinical areas

Clinics can revert to pre COVID-19 safe distancing. There’s no requirement to allow a safe distance in clinic waiting areas that aren’t shared with walk in centres. If shared with walk in centres, safe distancing needs to be maintained at one metre.

Visitors - Visiting can return to pre COVID arrangements 

There will be no limit to the number of visitors that patients can receive from an infection prevention and control (IPC) perspective. Please note, at Longmoor House this will be limited to two patients at the bedside.

There will be no requirement to use booking in systems that were introduced specifically related to COVID.

Currently, due to increased community circulation of COVID-19, visitors should be politely asked to wear a face mask. This is particularly important if they are visiting a patient who is vulnerable and at higher risk of infection, or advised by the IPC team (for example, if the patient has an infection risk).

Visits should continue to take place in a designated visiting room as per pre COVID.

Key COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures

Changes to COVID testing for patients

The use of polymerase chain reaction tests (PCRs) for patient COVID-19 testing has reduced and been replaced by lateral flow device (LFD) tests. PCRs will continue to be used for day one admission tests, testing in outbreaks, symptomatic testing and patient transfers to care homes or other trusts, if requested.

All other tests will be performed using LFDs. All results of LFD tests will need to be inputted onto the patient clinical record system.

For further details of specific examples, recording and reporting of results and stocks, please read the SOP

Admission and isolation

Patients admitted to the Trust continue to be tested on admission by PCR, and day three and days five to seven by LFD. Those testing positive require a period of isolation, please read the SOP for details.

Guidance for stepping down isolation

The patient isolation period for COVID-19 can be reduced from 10 days if specific criteria is met. Patients can be tested using LFDs at day six of their isolation period (staff are currently day five) and require a negative test, at days six and seven. Please read the SOP for further guidance.

Contacts of COVID-19 in our inpatient settings

The new SOP, Guidance for patients who are identified as a contact of a positive COVID-19 case, provides updated guidance on the management of inpatients if they are identified as a contact. They are no longer required to isolate if they remain asymptomatic but are required to follow advice. This includes twice weekly testing and avoiding contact with those who are at greater risk.

Please read the SOP for further guidance.

Section 17 leave and AWOL

Patients taking section 17 leave during the day do not require testing or isolation on return. Those taking overnight leave should take LFDs on days one, three, and five to seven. Isolation is not required unless the result is positive. In addition, if a patient is taking Section 17 leave overnight and is classed as a COVID-19 contact patient, they will require a negative LFD test result on the day of leave, or a negative PCR test within 24 hours of leave. Public health advice should also be followed.

Patients returning from a period of AWOL should be offered an LFD test on days one, three, and five to seven. No isolation is required unless a positive result is returned. For further information please read the SOP

Managing and testing a patient with suspected respiratory infection

The list of symptoms has extended to suspected COVID-19 infection. The SOP also advises on when to take an Influenza swab.

Guidance for staff with COVID-19 and other respiratory infection

An extended list of symptoms, together with temperature or feeling unwell, requires a COVID-19 test and exclusion. The SOP provides detail on when staff can return to work, if testing COVID-19 negative, and also if testing positive. This includes LFD testing from days five and six of positive result or symptoms.

Reintroduction of group therapy sessions, clinics and gyms

The SOP details guidance on limitations and advice when mixing service users from different wards, such as avoiding service users from wards with active or suspected COVID-19 infections.

Managing patients with Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGPs)

The list of AGPs has been reduced and now excludes continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), high flow nasal oxygen and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Use of high-speed drills in dental services remains. Also, the use of respiratory equipment is now only required when undertaking AGPs for suspected or positive COVID-19 patients. Read the SOP for details.

Your questions answered

Do you have questions? The latest COVID-19 guidance, along with risk assessments and further COVID-19 SOPs, can be found on YourSpace.