COVID FAQs for Trainees
Please note that the information in this page is correct and updated regularly, however, this is a rapidly changing situation and we would recommend to continually monitor the national advice issued by Public Health England.
Please see the FAQs below or you can download a pdf version.
These FAQs are divided into sections regarding:
- What should I do if I have COVID symptoms?
The main symptoms of COVID-19 are recent onset of any of the following:
- a new continuous cough
- a high temperature
- a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)
For most people, COVID-19 will be a mild illness. However, if any member of staff has any of the symptoms listed above, even if those symptoms are mild:
- they are advised to stay at home and arrange to have a PCR test
- if at home (off-duty), they should not attend work while awaiting their PCR test result and should notify their employer or line manager immediately
- if at work, they should inform their employer or line manager and return home as soon as possible
There are several other symptoms linked with COVID-19. Any of these symptoms may also have another cause. If staff members are concerned about their symptoms, they should seek medical advice.
The advice on when staff who test positive for COVID-19 (on PCR/LFD/LAMP) can end their self-isolation period has changed.
Anyone who receives a positive LFD or PCR test result should stay at home and avoid contact with other people. There is no need to take a PCR test after a positive LFD test result.
Health and social care staff with COVID-19 should not attend work until they have had 2 consecutive negative LFD test results (taken at least 24 hours apart), they feel well, and they do not have a high temperature. The first LFD test should only be taken from 5 days after the day their symptoms started (or the day their test was taken if they did not have symptoms) - this is described as Day 0. If both LFD tests results are negative they may return to work immediately after the second negative LFD test result, provided they meet the criteria below:
- the staff member’s symptoms have resolved, or their only symptoms are cough or anosmia which can last for several weeks
- if the staff member works with patients or residents who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 (as determined by the organisation), a risk assessment should be undertaken, and consideration should be given to redeployment until period10 days after their symptoms started (or the day their test was taken if they did not have symptoms)
- the staff member should continue to undertake daily LFD tests until 10 days after their symptoms started (or the day their test was taken if they did not have symptoms). For example:
- if the first negative LFD test was taken on the fifth day, and the second negative LFD test was taken on the sixth day, they can return to work but should continue to take LFD tests on days 7, 8, 9 and 10
- if the first negative LFD test was taken on the sixth day and the second negative LFD test was taken on the seventh day, they can return to work but should continue to take LFD tests on days 8, 9 and 10
- if any of these LFD test results are positive the staff member should isolate and should wait 24 hours before taking the next LFD test
- on days the staff member is working, the LFD test should be taken prior to beginning their shift, as close as possible to the start time
- the staff member must continue to comply with all relevant infection control precautions and personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn properly throughout the day
The likelihood of a positive LFD test in the absence of a high temperature after 10 days is low. If the staff member’s LFD test result is positive on the 10th day, they should continue to take daily LFD tests, and can return to work after a single negative LFD test result.
The likelihood of a positive LFD test after 14 days is considerably lower. If the staff member’s LFD test result is still positive on the 14th day, they can stop testing and return to work on day 15. If the staff member works with patients or residents who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 (as determined by the organisation), a risk assessment should be undertaken, and consideration given to redeployment.
Managers can undertake a risk assessment of staff who test positive between 10 and 14 days and who do not have a high temperature, with a view to them returning to work depending on the work environment.
Any staff member admitted to hospital with COVID-19 symptoms will be subject to the guidance for isolation for patients within guidance for stepdown of infection control precautions and discharging COVID-19 patients.
There is additional guidance on reducing the spread of COVID-19. Household contacts of the staff member should also follow this guidance.
- What is the single source of advice to follow?
This guidance provided by Public Health England is provided by clinical experts and should be followed by those working in a health or social care setting.
Within their guidance they link to NHS guidance which can be found here.
Please refer to the following links for further information:
- GOV.UK: coronavirus action plan
- GOV.UK: information on coronavirus and the situation in the UK
You will also find regular updates from HEE in relation to your training by clicking here
- I am feeling unsettled and anxious, where can I go for advice?
To support our colleagues during this time, all staff have access to 24/7 online or telephone confidential counselling from the Employee Assistance Programme delivered by Vita Health Group. You can call anytime on: 0300 131 2067 or visit the website and use access code STHKWELL.
COVID – A free wellbeing support helpline:
Call 0300 131 7000 – available from 7am-11pm seven days a week. This helpline provides confidential listening from trained professionals and specialist advice including coaching, bereavement care, mental health and financial help. There is also a 24/7 text alternative available – simply text FRONTLINE to 8525
Family communication to support staff during COVID-19 including guidance for key workers on how to have difficult conversations with your children about your role as a key worker is available to you. For more information, please click here.
Additionally, NHS Employers have information for staff wellbeing available here.
- As a doctor, am I required to quarantine when I return from travel abroad?
The Government has updated its travel advice meaning that those travelling to England from abroad are no longer required to quarantine when they arrive in the country.
What you must do depends on whether you qualify as fully vaccinated under the rules for travel to England.
If you are fully vaccinated
Before you travel to England you must:
- complete a passenger locator form. You need to do this in the 3 days before you arrive in England.
- You do not need to complete a passenger locator form if you began your journey to England in Ukraine or Russia.
- You do not need to take any COVID-19 travel tests before you travel to England or after you arrive.
- You do not need to quarantine when you arrive in England.
If you are not fully vaccinated
Before you travel to England you must:
- take a COVID-19 test – to be taken in the 2 days before you travel to England
- book and pay for a COVID-19 PCR test – to be taken after you arrive in England
- complete a UK passenger locator form – to be completed in the 3 days before you arrive in England
- You will need to enter your PCR test booking reference number in the passenger locator form
When you arrive in England You must:
- take the COVID-19 PCR test that you booked before you travelled.
- You can take the test any time after you arrive and before the end of day 2 at the latest. The day you arrive in England is day 0.
- If the test result is positive you should follow the advice above.
Further guidance about travelling to the UK from abroad can be found here
- Should I be wearing a mask at work?
The fight against Covid-19 continues and your well-being and safety remains paramount. Many of you will have recently rotated to a new host organisation or recently commenced employment and have commenced in your first specialty training placement. In this respect please do take time to familiarise yourself with your host organisations local infection prevention and control guidance and protocols ensuring these are followed at all times.
This also includes adhering to PPE protocols. Should you have any questions in relation to PPE and infection control please contact your Host organisation in the first instance.
- How do I access the COVID-19 vaccine?
The vaccinations will need to be undertaken locally as part of the host’s responsibility. Please speak to your Host Organisation in the first instance.
If you have already received one vaccine dose and then rotate to a new placement, you must return to the original vaccination site for the second dose where possible and practical.
In exceptional circumstances, which may include having moved a large geographical distance, then trainees should take their Vaccine Blue card with them to inform and facilitate having the second vaccine at their new host trust or local vaccine hub.
- If I am under 30 and I have concerns regarding the AstraZeneca Vaccine, where can I get further advice
- If I have been asked by my practice to work in COVID vaccination clinics, is this permitted?
We are conscious of the significant logistical challenges around vaccine delivery and recognise the importance of system working to support this where possible. It is HEEs position that trainees should have their training needs prioritised and that it is inappropriate for these trainees to be redeployed to vaccination centres. There are, however, opportunities to fulfil specific curriculum competencies through appropriately planned and supported involvement in the programme. If trainees are progressing well with training and where this meets their curriculum needs, trainee involvement is permitted.
If trainees wish to work additional sessions to support the vaccine effort, this is supported subject to the usual stipulations governing additional/locum work or work in other environments. Trainees will need to contact their indemnity provider to ensure appropriate cover is in place for such work.
- If I have been a close contact of COVID-19 do I have to self-isolate for 10 days?
If a staff member is providing care to or is in close contact with an individual with COVID-19 infection and is wearing the correct PPE appropriately in accordance with the UK infection prevention and control (IPC) guidance and How to work safely guidance, they will not be considered as a contact for the purposes of contact tracing and isolation. This applies regardless of the vaccination status of the staff member.
If there has been a breach of recommended PPE during the care episode then the staff member would be considered a contact and should follow the advice below.
Staff members who are a contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case and not wearing the correct PPE as above should inform their line manager or employer immediately if they are required to work in the 10 days following their last contact with the case.
If the staff member develops symptoms of COVID-19 during this period, follow the guidance detailed in question 1 above.
The majority of health and social care staff who are contacts will be able to continue in their usual role. The following apply to staff returning to work:
- the staff member should not have any of the main COVID-19 symptoms
- the staff member should immediately arrange to have a PCR test and the result of this PCR test should be negative prior to returning to work
- if a staff member has had COVID-19 infection in the past 90 days, they should not have a PCR
- following the negative PCR result, the staff member should undertake an LFD test every day for the 10 days following their last contact with the case (even on days they are not at work)
- on days the staff member is working, the LFD test should be taken before starting their shift, and the result should be negative
- the staff member should comply with all relevant infection control precautions and PPE should be worn properly throughout the day
- if the staff member works with patients or residents who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 (as determined by the organisation), a risk assessment should be undertaken, and consideration given to redeployment during the 10 days following their last contact with the case
- If any of the above cannot be met, the staff member should not come to work and should follow the People with COVID-19 and their contacts guidance.
Further information on the regulations that apply to health and social care workers can be accessed here
- I am pregnant, what should I do?
Please ensure that you and your Host Organisation complete the COVD-19 risk assessment as early as possible which can be found here.
You should also complete a pregnancy Risk Assessment at each trimester during your pregnancy which can be found here
You can also find all of the latest guidance from Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists by visiting their website.
Further guidance from the lead employer for all pregnant trainees can also be accessed here under the Risk Assessment drop down.
- What is the advice for the partners of pregnant trainees? Are they entitled to the same adjustments?
Please follow PHE guidance Click here. The relevant risk assessment should be completed.
Pay, Sickness, Absence and Self-Isolation
- Does my salary get affected if I must go off work for 2 weeks either due to Covid19 or due to a family member having it?
Your host placement will now be in receipt of guidance from the Lead Employer on how your absence will be recorded on ESR. Absence related to Covid19 will be paid and sickness absence arising from Covid19 will not count towards any triggers.
- The process to sign up for our hospital bank system to do extra shifts to get paid takes months, meaning it’s likely we will not be paid for any extra work we are made to do on our new rotas. How will this be addressed?
Please speak with your host on this matter. These additional hours sit outside your contract of employment with Lead Employer.
- What should I do if I am considered clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV)?
On 17 March 2021 the government issued a new letter to all individuals currently on the Shielding Patient list. This confirms that as of 1st April 2021, the current shielding advice for the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) will be paused nationally. This reflects falling infection rates and advice from the Chief Medical Officer.
All trainees who have been required to shield due to being issued with a shielding letter from their GP or from NHS England, identifying them as CEV must ensure that a COVID risk assessment is completed.
As part of the Risk Assessment process, trainees who are on immunosuppressive therapy and as such remain at higher risk from Covid-19, should be referred to the Lead Employer so that Health, Work and Wellbeing (HWWB) advice can be sought to help ensure they are deployed to roles and sites with lower risk of infection where necessary.
The government have issued the following guidance regarding shielding to help protect people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19.
Please click here to read the government guidance in full.
- My booked annual leave within my current placement has been cancelled by my Host due to maintain service delivery. Can I carry this forward to my next placement?
The Lead Employer continue to work with Host Organisations to ensure outstanding annual leave for doctors in speciality training can be taken before the end of your leave year which for the vast majority is the end of July.
In some exceptional circumstances (2016 TCS Sch 10 Para 21) up to a maximum of 5 days leave (pro rata for trainees who work less than full time) can be carried forward and in line with the Lead Employer Annual Leave policy, this would need to be agreed between your current and new host organisations.
It is paramount that colleagues in training make arrangements to book leave at regular points throughout the leave year and that your requests are submitted to your Host no later than 6 weeks prior to taking leave. Please ensure that prior to commencement of your new placement/immediately upon commencement you submit your leave requests to enable Host Organisations to manage service delivery.
Details of the Lead Employer Annual Leave Policy and Tool kit can be accessed here.
- How will training requirements/competencies be fulfilled if immunocompromised staff are redeployed to non-patient facing roles, or “low risk” areas? If re-deployed to non-patient facing roles or advised to self-isolate due to immunocompromised, will this time need to be made up in extra training?
Please contact HEE directly via your TPD or Head of School to discuss this matter
- Should I sign an opt out form due to working beyond my contractual hours?
All trainees who are currently working above their contractual hours should sign the opt out form to ensure they are working within safe hours to protect their health and wellbeing. You can view the form: Individual Consent to Opt.docx.
- What guidance is available with regards to teaching and study leave for trainees during the COVID 19 outbreak?
Please refer to HEE website for further information.
- Is there any guidance on whether NHS staff will have to continue to pay for parking during COVID-19?
The Government suspended car park payments for NHS staff from 1st April 2021. These payments will be suspended until further notice.
- Can you advise on any guidance relating to death in service provisions for those working during Covid-19?
Please refer to national guidance from NHS pensions which you can find by clicking here