Branch news September 2021

Focusing on three pretty big issues this month.
Change to self-isolation guidance
The following is an extract from the new guidance. Please note the change in emphasis from this being 'voluntary' to an 'expectation' of return to work. If you encounter any issues around this, please contact the Branch. Links to the full documents posted on our website are included below.
You do not have to go to work if you do not feel able to. However, you are expected to return to work if you meet all of the criteria for exemption and have been asked to do so by your line manager.
There are several criteria that must be met:
1.    You've been identified as a close contact.
2.    You're fully vaccinated - this means you've received 2 doses of an approved vaccine and you had your second dose more than 14 days ago. This needs to be verified with your line manager.
3.    You do not have symptoms of coronavirus.
4.    You are not currently self-isolating as a case.
5.    You do not develop symptoms in the 10 days since you last saw the person who tested positive.
6.    You've had an initial negative PCR test result. If you've tested positive for coronavirus in the last 90 days, you'll need an initial negative LFD test rather than an initial PCR test before returning to work.
7.    You take a daily lateral flow device (LFD) test before starting work for the 10 days since you last saw the person who tested positive. If you live with the person who tested positive, the daily LFD tests start from the date of their first symptoms, or their positive test if they do not have symptoms.
8.    You must report the result of every daily LFD test to your line manager. You must also report your result through the NHS Scotland portal. If you have a positive LFD test, you must self-isolate and arrange a PCR test (even if you have had a positive PCR result in the previous 90 days) to help with further risk assessment before returning to work.
9.    You do not work with immunosuppressed patients - for example in oncology settings. If you do, you may be asked by your line manager to work within other areas.
10. You continue to follow infection prevention and control guidance.
At the time of writing we are expecting an NHS Highland communication to go out to staff on this, shortly. The full documents are on the links below.

National Care Service
The National Care Service proposal (as referred to in earlier communications) is based on the recommendations of the Independent Review of Adult Social Care (the 'Feeley Review'). This was established in response to the crisis in care homes and the scale of Covid-19 related deaths amongst residents. However the proposals go far beyond the Feeley Review. The National Care Service will be a comprehensive health and social care service for all ages, from infants to the elderly. Its remit includes not only adult residential and home care services, but: - ALL adult AND children's social work and social care, including; - alcohol and drug services and mental health services; - community justice services and prison social care; - ALL community health services including general practice (GPs). The proposals are far reaching and complex and will affect UNISON members across several different service groups and sectors.
Note this is a consultation at present (closing 18 October). An extremely useful, brief UNISON summary about this is set out below.
Mind Wellness Action Plans
NHS Highland are promoting the use of these (it was in the 'Wellbeing Wednesday' email on 8 September).
This is very much an approach which we support.
Everyone can complete a plan; you don't need to have a mental health problem in order to feel the benefits. It just means that you already have practical steps in place to ensure you are supported when you aren't feeling great.
There are three guides:
Guide for line managers is for managers or supervisors who are interested in introducing WAPs to their team members.
Guide for employees is for any member of staff who would like to try a WAP for themselves and introduce the idea of using WAPs to their manager or supervisor.
Working from home WAP is designed to support staff with their mental health and wellbeing when working from home.
If you would like to try this in your team, do get in touch if you need support in terms of any discussions with managers.
Of course we would also support use of these for any employer covered by the Branch.
Let us know how you get on!
Branch Communications Officer
UNISON Highland Healthcare


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