Household members with symptoms to be tested. Prioritised testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) will allow key health and social care workers to return to work, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has announced.
The Scottish Government has published guidance for NHS Scotland to prioritise testing to enable health and social care staff to get back to work, based on the pressures local boards are facing.
As testing capacity increases, this will be extended to other key workers.
Ms Freeman said:
“It is essential that front-line health and social care staff can remain at work. To help to save lives, we must continue to prioritise testing in hospitals. All remaining capacity must be used to ensure that critical staff can return to work as soon as possible.
“Today, I am publishing guidance for the NHS to support use of the testing capacity in our laboratories, in so far as it is not needed for essential care, in order to enable health and social care staff to be back at work when that is safe.
“NHS boards will prioritise testing, based on where the pressure is felt most in their workforce and in social care.”
The Health Secretary’s statement can be read in full here.
Boards are being asked to prioritise testing the symptomatic household members of health and social care staff – in cases where the staff have no symptoms but have to remain in isolation because a family member does.
This will mean that where the household member tests negative, the health or social care staff member will not have to isolate for 14 days, and this will have the greatest impact in reducing working days lost.
For example, if a nurse is symptomatic and receives a negative test result three days after the onset of symptoms, the number of working days could be reduced by four because they would not have to complete the full seven days of self-isolation.
However, if that nurse is in household isolation because their son has a fever and cough, they would normally be required to stay in household isolation for 14 days. If the son is tested and receives a negative test result three days after symptom onset, the number of working days lost would be reduced by 11.
Boards will prioritise in areas where staff are most needed. While one board may have pressures in their midwifery services and so prioritise testing in this group, for example, another may need to prioritise Intensive Care Units (ICU) consultants.
The Scottish Government has also reached an agreement to waive all parking charges at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Ninewells Hospital in Dundee and Edinburgh Royal Infirmary for staff and visitors.
The latest numbers of test results are published at 2pm each day on the Scottish Government website.
Updates on public health advice for coronavirus can be found on the NHS Inform website, and a free helpline has been set up for those who do not have symptoms but are looking for general health advice: 0800 028 2816.
Common symptoms of coronavirus include:
• fever or a temperature above 37.8°C
• persistent cough