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GP practices should enable all staff to work remotely ‘where possible’

All staff working in GP practices should be enabled to work remotely ‘where possible’, NHS England has said.

This includes those who have symptoms of Covid-19 but are ‘well enough to continue working from home’, it added.

Practice staff should also be risk-assessed against coronavirus and remote working ‘prioritised’ for those ‘at increased risk’, according to the latest GP standard operating procedures where the updates were published.

The document said that one of the ‘key principles’ for practices is that ‘where possible, staff should be enabled to work remotely’.

It added: ‘Staff with symptoms of Covid-19 should stay at home as per advice for the public [but those] who are well enough to continue working from home should be supported to do so.’

The same applies for practice staff whose household member displays symptoms, it said.

However, the guidance added that remote working ‘should be prioritised for staff at increased risk’ from coronavirus following a risk assessment to ‘identify’ them.

It said: ‘Remote working should be prioritised for staff at increased risk from Covid-19. 

‘GP practices should support these staff to follow stringent social distancing requirements if they are not able to work from home (ie stay more than 2 metres away from others).’ 

It added: ‘Staff who are extremely clinically vulnerable from Covid-19 (shielded staff) should work from home with all possible support in place.’

Neither staff who are ‘extremely vulnerable’ and shielding nor those who are ‘clinically vulnerable’ and advised to follow ‘stringent’ social distancing should see patients face-to-face, it said.

It comes as Public Health’s England’s (PHE) rapid review into coronavirus risk-factors found that people of Bangladeshi origin are most at risk of dying from Covid-19 but faced criticism for being ‘a whitewash’.

In April, practices were asked to risk-assess staff from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds due to ‘emerging evidence’ of their higher risk from Covid-19.

And last week NHS England released updated guidance on how employers can assess the risk to BAME workers from Covid-19, but stopped short of endorsing a specific scoring tool.

Meanwhile, the updated standard operating procedures also revealed that practices must now report any coronavirus-related staff absence to NHS England on a new national tracker.