Test and trace FAQ

Test and trace across the United Kingdom

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.

Do I have to self-isolate following a Covid contact?

Where contact is with a patient in a clinical setting and appropriate PPE has been used this will not normally be considered a Covid contact and physiotherapists, physio support workers and physio students on placements will not normally be required to self-isolate.

Where you are notified of a contact in any other context, whether directly by track and trace services or an app, you will usually have to self-isolate. There is not a UK-wide approach to exemptions for health and care staff. You will need to follow the guidance and rules for your country or crown dependency:


The Welsh government has confirmed that it will not allow exemptions at this time.


Exemptions may be available to named clinicians where:

  • the circumstances are “exceptional”
  • the risk to patients is higher through their absence than the risk of Covid is to patients if they attend work
  • the individuals are double vaccinated and has had a 14 day clear period following vaccination
  • the individual has had a negative PCR test
  • the individual has daily negative lateral flow tests.

Exemptions must be agreed by the employer and by public health officials. For NHS employees in England there is a process set out in PHE advice.

For people in England who are not directly employed by the NHS, the route to an exemption depends on whether the individual is providing and NHS commissioned service or not. For NHS commissioned services employers should contact their commissioners in the first instance. For all other services the organisation should seek approval from their local health protection teams or local resilience forums.

Northern Ireland

Members working for HSC should contact their managers for advice. The CSP understands that trusts may permit exemptions to HSC staff where:

  • the circumstances are 'exceptional'
  • there is a need to help alleviate pressure on health and social care services
  • the individual is double vaccinated and has had a 14-day clear period following vaccination
  • the individual has had a negative PCR test
  • the individual has daily negative lateral flow tests
  • suitable precautions are in place
  • a relevant manager has undertaken a risk assessment.

We are not aware of any exemption for non-HSC practitioners.


The Scottish government has also introduced limited exemptions.

Exemptions can only be made where:

  • the individual is double vaccinated and has had a 14-day clear period following vaccination
  • the individual has had a negative PCR test
  • the individual has daily negative lateral flow tests

The processes for seeking health and social care exemptions is to be communicated separately but is not currently available to us.


While fully vaccinated islanders do not usually have to self-isolate, if you work with vulnerable people you may be required to self-isolate.

Whether you have to self-isolate following a contact with a Covid-positive person will be determined by Public Health Services. They can be contacted on 01481 225241.


Self-isolation of Jersey residents applies where someone notified of a contact has Covid symptoms but has not had a negative PCR test.

However local public health advice advises against attending hospital, GP practices and care homes if you have been in contact with a Covid-positive person but have no symptoms.

Isle of Man

Anyone who has received the both vaccines followed by 14 clear days since the second injection does not have to self-isolate where they have been identified as a high-risk contact of a positive case.

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 10 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 if I am told to self-isolate by a contact tracer when I believe the contact was a patient and I had been wearing PPE?

Public Health England has produced Guidance for Health and Social Care Staff who may be permitted to attend work in exceptional circumstances instead of self-isolating, provided specified criteria are met. This guidance applies in England only. Members working in the other UK nations must continue to follow their national guidance.

We have been hearing of some private practitioners being told to self-isolate without there being appropriate recognition that they are healthcare professionals and may have been wearing the correct PPE.

We have worked with the other professional bodies and liaised with PHE, NHSE, Health Protection Scotland and local Health Protection Teams (HPT). We are reassured that private practitioners should be managed as healthcare professionals with regard to test and trace processes, and so if the private practitioner can demonstrate they have followed PHE’s PPE guidance they should not be managed as test and trace contacts.

Private practitioners should firstly raise any concerns with their local HPTs which will consider the individual circumstances of a private practitioner’s context of the contact and whether other exposures were identified, and thus what action needs to be taken.

Last updated 27 July 2021

I do not work in the NHS services but think I meet the PHE guidance requirements for an exemption from self-isolation. What do I do?  

Remember this applies in England only.

  • NHS commissioned services – should contact their commissioners in the first instance.

  • Other services – should seek approval from their local health protection teams or local resilience forums.

Last updated 22 July 2021

Consent for test and trace

You cannot share personal details unless:

  1. you have the patients consent OR
  2. 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.

The Information Commissioners Office provides more detail on the Data management requirements relating to test and trace.

Last reviewed: