Members in Health, please see below transcript of a letter sent to the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Michael McBride from the Joint Health Trade Unions.

Maria Morgan
Assistant Secretary
Dear Sir

On Friday last we received the email entitled…

Fully Vaccinated Health and Social Care Staff Told to Self-Isolate as a Close Contact May Be Permitted to Attend Work in Exceptional Circumstances

The attached publication was not shared or discussed with the Trade Unions before being issued with no opportunity to comment.

As it is presented, we have concerns which must be brought to your attention on behalf of the staff we represent. At this time, we cannot endorse or support this development.

Our specific concerns are:

  • Whether/how data will be collected on the number of staff asked to return to work and not self-isolate and the proportion of these that return from self-isolation?
  • Staff would appear to only be released for the purposes of work. Following risk assessment and daily testing staff are either considered safe or not safe to mix with the public.
  • Many health and social care workers move around community settings or places of work as part of their role.
  • Employers may seek staff to return regardless of risk assessment with the policy adopted as business as usual not in extremis.
  • How staff are expected to take breaks in areas not used by others – this risks staff not having access to adequate rest and hydration breaks.

We would draw your attention to the following which are absent from your document.

  • The need for a specific regional risk assessment tool relating to this change in policy
  • Clear attention must be focussed on the pressure on specific teams to undertake risk assessments (health protection teams, Infection Prevention & Control teams and occupational health teams).
  • Transparency/duty of candour to patients/carers is required if cared for by staff that would otherwise be self-isolating

It is the Trade Unions view that this new guidance must not be mandatory.

Anne Speed: Lead Joint Secretary, UNISON Dolores McCormick: Interim Joint Secretary, RCN
Maria Morgan: Joint Secretary, NIPSA Kevin McAdam, Trade Union Chair, Unite