Last updated: 23.03.2020
Q – Are we well stocked for oxygen?
A – We are well stocked for oxygen and our supplier is confident in their supply chain. At NDHT we keep good stock in part because we are rural and also following lessons learned from snow in recent years.
Q – Are we likely to see shift patterns and working hours changing?
A – Yes, at every level across the organisation. Please know that your welfare is of utmost importance to us, and we will support you through this.
Q – What can clinical staff expect the workload to look like over the coming weeks?
A – There will be redeployment and shift changes as the situation develops, but we will aim to keep people in their current working environment where possible.
We are putting together clinical training, including skills sessions and sim training, to support staff that may be moved to assist in ward areas due to COVID-19 pressures.
Where junior doctors may be asked to be part of an on-call rota, we will be making sure there are senior doctors around. We are pleased that statements of support have been issued by the GMC and NMC, with particular regard to working below historic safe staffing levels and for registered staff working outside their area of familiarity. We are awaiting guidance from the ACP.
As an organisation, we are holding a clinical assurance meeting every morning, to look at staffing. We are working to understand the minimum staffing levels we are comfortable with, reviewing skillsets of staff, and ensuring we have strong governance around this to protect staff. We are looking at potential routes, inside and outside the Trust, and working with partners, for increasing numbers of healthcare professionals to the frontline.
Q – Is the Trust going to be sending out skills questionnaire to staff who are non-clinical?
A – Not at the moment, we are not at the critical stage. We have some brief time to plan, and will be expecting managers to refer to business continuity plans, which will take this into account.
Q – What is the situation around facial hair – should we remove it?
A – As the situation escalates we believe that there will be an increasing requirement for staff to be protected as part of the delivery of patient care to those affected by the virus, and many of you have responded positively to perform swabs and to be fit tested to ensure an FFP3 face mask fits.
We are aware that there have been some difficulties with fit testing on individuals who have facial hair, or are not clean shaven. Current Health & Safety Executive advice indicates that the masks rely on a good seal against the face so that, when you breathe air in, it is drawn into the filter material where the air is cleaned. If there are any gaps around the edges of the mask, ‘dirty’ air will pass through these gaps and into the lungs.
The Trust is conscious that many individuals may have facial hair for a variety of reasons, and that it may not be appropriate to ask or expect individuals to be asked to be clean shaven. Where this is the case, we would wish to assure employees that the Trust will work with them to try to identify, wherever possible, alternative means that might offer the required level of protection, but this may not be as effective or as comfortable as the FFP3 mask. The subject of recommended PPE is being reviewed nationally on a regular basis, and the Trust will keep you updated if the situation or recommended PPE changes.
Q – I have symptoms of a cold, should I self-isolate?
A – Please be aware of the latest advice on the symptoms of coronavirus, which are available at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Q – How can I protect myself and my family?
A – The best way to protect yourself and others is to follow the recommended government and NHS advice, but bearing in mind the guidance that is coming to you through our Trust communications as not all general government advice can be applied to our staff in the same way as the general public e.g. school closures .
Remember to practice good hand hygiene.
Q – Can I still use public transport if I’ve cared for a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patient?
A – Yes, provided you follow the PHE guidance for staff
Q – How contagious is COVID-19?
A – As we learn more about the COVID-19 virus we have gained a clearer picture of the nature of its path of infection. It appears COVID-19 is not aerosolised and is transmitted via close contact and large droplets. There is little chance of infection from person-to-person beyond a distance of approximately 1 metre.