GPs using the new NHS Covid-19 app, which launched today, should turn off its tracing function while in PPE as this means they are ‘highly unlikely’ to catch the virus.
However, NHS England said GPs should download and use the app ‘in most cases’ and the BMA also encouraged GPs to use ‘outside of work’.
The app, which launched in England and Wales following numerous setbacks, anonymously tracks the contacts of users via Bluetooth.
If another user inputs a positive Covid-19 test result in their app, all users who have come into contact with them over the past 14 days are informed and asked to self-isolate.
The app also gives users information on their local risk level and has a feature for inputting to symptoms to see if they match those of Covid-19 and whether they need to take a test.
But GPs had questioned how to use the app.
NHS England said: ‘Health and care workers should use the NHS Covid-19 app in most cases.
‘If you’re a health or care worker practising infection prevention and control (IPC), including wearing correct PPE, you should pause contact tracing on your app. Remember to turn it back on after you remove your PPE.’
Workers can also pause the app if they’re working behind a Perspex screen.
‘In most of these situations, you’re already protected, so it is highly unlikely that you would catch the virus,’ the guidance said.
Other instances when it should be paused include when leaving the phone behind but potentially nearby other users, such as in a locker room.
‘If your phone is not with you, use the “pause” function on the app so that the contact tracing part doesn’t work. Or, you could switch your phone off . If you forget, you might get an alert because an infected person was near your phone when your phone wasn’t with you,’ NHS England said.
‘If you forget, you might get an alert because an infected person was near your phone when your phone wasn’t with you.’
However, some GPs questioned whether users would remember when to pause the app.
The BMA told Pulse: ‘Ultimately it’s up to individual GPs whether they decide to use the app, but it’s efficacy will depend on take-up and therefore we’d broadly encourage people to (including GPs outside of work).’
Businesses which welcome customers need to post a QR code for app users to scan on entering their premises, but for GP practices this is optional.