The BMA has said that allowing double-jabbed NHS staff, including GPs, to avoid self-isolation upon becoming a Covid contact is ‘desperate and potentially unsafe’.
And the BMA argued that instead of allowing further categories of workers to avoid isolation, amid a steep rise in people being ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid app, the Government should reintroduce a more cautious approach to the virus.
Fully-vaccinated GPs are among frontline health and social care workers that are able to avoid self-isolation in ‘exceptional circumstances’ since the start of this week (Monday 19 July).
After a risk assessment, GPs can return to work after a negative PCR test, and while having negative daily lateral flow test results for seven days.
Meanwhile, all double-jabbed contacts of Covid cases will no longer need to self-isolate from 16 August.
The BMA warned that the measure comes as hospitals and GP practices across the country are under immense demand from rising Covid infections.
But, despite the pressures being exacerbated by rising numbers of medical staff unable to work due to falling ill or self-isolating, the BMA does not believe NHS staff should be exempt from isolating.
BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘Exempting healthcare staff from self-isolation to get them back to work is a desperate and potentially unsafe policy that does not address the root problem. The safety of patients and staff must be paramount.
‘People go to see healthcare professionals in order to get better, not to risk getting infected,
and staff should not fear transmission of the virus from their own colleagues.’
Instead, he said, the Government ‘needs to wake up’ to the fact that ‘now is not the right time to abandon legal restrictions such as social distancing and mask wearing’.
‘This is not a problem about excessive pinging of the NHS app, but is a direct result of lack of effective measures by the Government that is allowing the virus to let rip throughout the nation,’ he said.
The BMA further asked the Government to ensure that staff who still choose to self-isolate must not suffer repercussions, while enhanced PPE and more FFP3 masks must be made available to the NHS.
Pulse has contacted the Department for Health and Social Care for comment.