Updated guidance September 2021: Self-isolating staff – action required

Following the Government announcement that NHS staff may be able to work during a period of self-isolation (because of a close contact with a known positive) further guidance has been issued. Our team have reviewed this. It may be possible for staff to return to work. We require you to firstly check you meet the following criteria:

  • You are not a close contact of a positive household member
  • You are not positive yourself or symptomatic (including mild symptoms)
  • You are in a role that could not be performed from home
  • You are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 (greater than 14 days since your second dose)
  • You are on day 7 or less of your self-isolation period

If you meet the above criteria you should next contact occupational health. Occupational health will carry out an assessment with you as soon as they are able, arrange a PCR test and advise you fully. A negative PCR test result and ability to carry out daily lateral flow tests (LFTs) must be in place before any potential return to work. OH will advise you fully as part of the assessment.


You must not return to work ahead of the above being completed in full and in place and you must not stop self-isolating.

Those staff who do not meet the above criteria must remain in self-isolation.

Return to work questionnaire

Occupational health have prepared a helpful return to work questionnaire for those staff who have received a notification or been advised that they have been in contact with a confirmed Covid-19 positive case.

We are asking all staff to please obtain a supply of lateral flow tests which are available from www.gov/uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests


What to do if you have Covid symptoms

If you develop symptoms of Covid-19, however mild, you should self-isolate at home. Notify your line manager and contact OH to arrange a test. If you develop symptoms whilst at work you should notify your manager, go home, self-isolate and contact OH.

Given the current level of transmission of Covid-19 and the much lower than normal levels of other viral infections, there is concern that staff who do not have the typical symptoms of Covid-19 but have other flu like or respiratory symptoms may have the infection. 

In view of this, there have been changes made to the staff testing programme as follows:

Covid-19 symptoms

Any member of staff who develops one or more of the following symptoms must self-isolate and arrange a swab:

  • High temperature – this means a feeling of feverishness, or a measured temperature >37.8 degrees
  • New cough – this means a new intermittent or persistent cough, or worsening of your usual cough (if you have one)
  • A loss or change in your sense of taste or smell, particularly in the absence of nasal congestion

If a member of your household develops one or more of these symptoms you should arrange a test for them and all of the household should self-isolate.

Details of how to arrange a swab can be found at: Covid-19 testing for staff (swab/PCR) 

Non-specific symptoms

Any member of staff who does not have any of the three symptoms above but does develop one or more of the following, should submit their next asymptomatic swab as soon as possible (even if one has been done in the previous few days).

  • Sore throat
  • Nasal discharge or congestion 
  • Muscle aches
  • New hoarseness
  • New shortness of breath
  • New wheeze

It is not necessary to self-isolate whilst waiting for the result of this swab, unless you have been instructed to do so for another reason. 

If you are not registered with the asymptomatic programme but require a swab for this reason please arrange it via: https://cuhstaffportal.co.uk/testrequest/. Please then register with the asymptomatic programme.

If you are unsure whether or not you should self-isolate whilst waiting for a swab and result, please contact occupational health, 01223 216767 or ohschelp@addenbrookes.nhs.uk

If a household contact has symptoms

If you are in a household with someone with Covid-19 symptoms, you will need to stay at home for 10 days. You should inform your line manager and also contact OH to arrange a test for the member of your household who has symptoms.

If you subsequently develop symptoms of Covid-19 you should contact OH to arrange a test and continue self-isolating. Where it is possible to work from home in self-isolation, you should do so in communication with/ agreement with your line manager. This absence should be recorded on Healthroster using group ‘Other Leave’ and reason ‘Self Iso – Special Leave: Medical Self Isolation.’

The Trust wishes to support staff who have been required to self-isolate, therefore will pay staff for the required period of 10 days.

Substantive staff will be paid for their usual pattern and bank staff will be paid based on a reference period of a 12-week average.

There may be instances of staff having to self-isolate more than once, in line with the changing government advice.

If you have received a positive test result

If you have received a positive test result from OH then you must follow their advice and isolate for the period of time advised. You will also be asked about contacts you have had with other staff in the workplace, in case they need to self-isolate.

If you have received a positive test result from a regional or national test centre (or home test) please notify OH without delay and ensure they are informed. You should follow the advice given and isolate as instructed.

In both situations you must also notify your manager of your absence.

If you have received a negative test result but been advised by OH to still self-isolate

The swab tests do not always show a positive result when someone has Covid-19 (false negatives). In view of this OH provide advice on the basis of the symptoms you have had as well as the swab result. You must follow this advice and self-isolate as instructed. You must also notify your manager of your absence.

If you have been contacted by NHS England Test and Trace or OH

If you are contacted by the national NHS Test and Trace team you must follow the advice given and notify your line manager and OH without delay.

You will be contacted by OH if you have been identified as a close contact at work with a colleague who has tested positive. You must follow the advice given and notify your manager.

If at any stage you subsequently develop symptoms you must follow the above advice.

If your child (as their parent or guardian) is advised to self-isolate either via the test and trace service or via their education setting, you must follow the latest national guidance provided. If your child remains asymptomatic you do not need to self-isolate but you must if they, you or anyone in the household become symptomatic at any stage. In addition please contact OH as soon as symptoms begin.