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Enhanced safety for health and social care staff

Routine testing of workforce extended as more services resume. 

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Staff who work in specialist cancer services, or provide long-term care for the elderly, as well as staff working in residential mental health, will be offered weekly coronavirus (COVID-19) testing from 8 July.

This builds on the routine testing currently offered to care home staff and aims to protect NHS staff and patients by reducing the spread of the virus in hospitals and other healthcare settings.

In addition, from 29 June all staff in hospitals and care home who interact with patients or residents will be required to wear a medical face mask throughout their shift. Anyone entering care homes and hospitals will also be asked to wear a face covering throughout. Face coverings will also be required when attending a hospital appointment.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) will also restart its inspection programme of hospitals and services by the end of June.  

The measures are part of updated guidance to further strengthen the safety of staff and patients as Scotland’s NHS begins restarting community and hospital services that have been paused due to the pandemic.   

Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, said: “Throughout the pandemic NHS Scotland has remained open, delivering emergency services and vital care. As the NHS prepares to safely resume more services, it is vitally important that we continue with rigorous infection prevention and control practices to minimise the spread of the virus in any health and social care setting, and are aligned with the growing evidence on this virus and how it is transmitted.

“I am bringing forward a range of actions to strengthen these practices, in line with advice from clinical experts. This includes regular testing of all hospital staff working in specialist cancer services, as well as those who provide long-term care for the elderly, and those working in long-stay mental health facilities.  

“This new guidance will also ensure all staff in hospitals and care homes who interact with patients or residents will be required to wear a medical face mask throughout their shift – for the protection of those they care for, their colleagues and themselves.

“Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) paused their inspection work in March to allow local infection prevention and control teams to concentrate on tackling the virus. However, the time is now right for inspections to resume. The Chief Nursing Officer has asked HIS to develop plans to take this forward safely, and we expect inspections to re-start at the end of June.”

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