Covid-19: HCSA urges employers to put safety first for clinically vulnerable doctors

HCSA has called on NHS employers to put safety first and ensure those doctors with underlying conditions are prioritised for home working amid a renewed surge in the Covid-19 pandemic.

The call follows new advice from the government today that people deemed clinically extremely vulnerable “are strongly advised to work from home”.

Employers have a legal duty to protect their staff from safety risks in the workplace.

Members in clinically at-risk groups, particularly those who shielded during the first wave of Covid-19, are therefore advised to seek an updated risk assessment following the announcement of a fresh national lockdown.

Doctors deemed clinically extremely vulnerable

The government maintains a list (external link) of those who should follow additional work from home advice, including those with cancers, severe respiratory conditions and immunodeficiencies.

New national guidance on those deemed “clinically extremely vulnerable” states: “You are strongly advised to work from home. If you cannot work from home, you should not attend work.”

Clinically extremely vulnerable staff should therefore request to meet with their managers to discuss their options and make arrangements to work from home from Thursday.

Further advice is expected shortly regarding pay in these circumstances.

Contact HCSA for advice

With Covid-19 cases rising in the community and in hospitals, the risk landscape is changing rapidly.

HCSA is urging members to get in touch for advice if they are concerned about their own situation.

HCSA General Secretary Dr Paul Donaldson said: “Levels of infection are increasing rapidly and this means that the mitigations deemed needed by employers at a time of lower infection rates may not be sufficient in local circumstances.

“Where doctors can perform a useful role remotely, we are urging employers to put safety first and allow the most vulnerable doctors to be allowed to do so in line with the government message for everyone to work from home where possible.

“Members should not be afraid to challenge the situation if they feel their concerns are not being answered. Don’t let yourself be placed at risk. HCSA’s national officer team is here to help if you need additional individual support.”