New quarantine rules: Put staff wellbeing first, say hospital doctors

HCSA has called on NHS Employers to put staff wellbeing first following important changes on quarantine rules affecting hospital doctors returning from abroad.

The government acted today to remove health workers from the list of those exempt from 14 days' isolation when arriving from overseas.

NHS Employers has also issued new guidance (PDF format) which outlines what hospital doctors hoping to travel or already abroad can expect.

It advises managers to make a distinction between those who knowingly travel abroad to a country where a quarantine is in place, and those who are caught due to changes in Foreign and Commonwealth Office guidance or had expensive holidays pre-booked.

Special consideration should be given to those whose families are abroad, it says.

The guidance advises managers to take heed of the need for rest and recuperation after a punishing few months when agreeing to leave requests. However, these judgements will be dependent on a supportive approach by individual managers.

Available remedies for those caught by quarantine rules involve the use of leave (unpaid or paid), working from home, making up the hours through extra shifts, or using up accrued TOIL.

HCSA is urging concerned members to get in touch for advice and support in securing a fair outcome with your employer.

HCSA General Secretary Dr Paul Donaldson said: “This is a rapidly changing situation which means many hospital doctors have been caught out or fear being affected in future.

“While decisions over annual leave are a balancing act between doctors’ individual needs and patient care, we would urge employers to place the huge sacrifice many NHS staff have made front and centre.

“We are calling on employers to put health and wellbeing of staff first in coming weeks, not least because there remains the prospect of a significant second wave of Covid-19 in autumn.”

“Remember, HCSA is there to support members if you are worried or feel you are being treated unfairly.”