Test and trace is a system run by the NHS across the UK to help track the progression of coronavirus, and to help protect against the further spread through recommending isolation for individuals identified.
Test and trace is in place in all 4 UK countries and varies slightly in each.
People who have symptoms of the disease will be asked to be tested for Covid-19– and if they test positive, they will be asked to supply details of anyone they could have passed it on to. Those people will then be contacted by the team of tracers and asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
Am I limited in the time I can treat patients due to test and trace?
Under the test and trace guidelines, 15 minutes within 2m of a confirmed case of Covid-19 is sufficient to class as a ‘contact’ but if you are in PPE, this is not relevant therefore you are not time restricted (if in PPE):
“People will be deemed to have been in "contact" if they "have had close contact, been coughed on, or spent more than 15 minutes within 2 metres of someone with COVID-19". However, the government has stated that people working in health and social care professional roles who have correctly used PPE as part of their employment are not considered to be a close contact.”
What will happen if a patient I have seen tests positive for COVID-19?
If a patient you have seen tests positive for Covid-19 you will be contacted by the tracers. If you can show that you have followed the appropriate PPE guidance for the task (AGP or non-AGP), you will not be asked to self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of the time you spent with the patient. This is why it is essential to follow the PHE guidance for use of PPE including having your policies and protocols reflective of the current guidance.
What will happen if a colleague or friend tests positive?
If you come into contact with a person, identified under this scheme, who tests positive, and you were not wearing appropriate PPE (not just facemask) at the time, then you would have to self-isolate for 14 days.
What will I have to do if I test positive for Covid-19?
If you test positive for Covid-19 you will be contacted by the tracers and asked to list those you have been in contact with. In turn, they will contact these people advising them to self-isolate. However, as you should have been in the PPE advised by PHE while with the patient you should not be asked to self-isolate.
Consent for test and trace
You cannot share personal details unless:
- you have the patients consent OR
- there is a lawful reason for you to do so.
Covid-19 is a serious communicable disease, which must be reported to Public Health authorities for disease management purposes, therefore if patients do not give their consent you may be required to report the information anyway. However, forewarning patients that you may be required to report information in the event of being asked to activate contact tracing is a good idea and can be discussed during the consent process.