• Trusts told to test all emergency patients for covid-19 in new NHSE guidelines
  • Elective patients would be admitted only if they’ve self-isolated for two weeks along with households
  • Asymptomatic NHS staff to be routinely tested

Patients will be told to self-isolate along with their household for two weeks before being admitted to hospital even if they have no covid-19 symptoms under NHS England’s new guidance for re-starting elective care.

NHSE has published guidance for trusts as the health service begins the ‘second phase’ of its response to the covid-19 outbreak.

The guidance says:

  • All emergency patients should be tested on admission. For patients who test negative, they should be re-tested between five to seven days after admission.
  • Elective patients should only be admitted to hospital if they “remain asymptomatic having isolated for 14 days prior to admission” along with other members of their household.
  • Where possible, elective patients should be tested negative for covid-19 a maximum of 72 hours before they are admitted.
  • Trusts should ensure asymptomatic patients should be able to comply with social distancing requirements in emergency departments, urgent access clinics and outpatient departments.
  • Only asymptomatic patients should attend outpatient appointments.
  • Additional NHS testing should be used to routinely test asymptomatic NHS staff, while symptomatic staff should be tested as per current practice.

Pre-admission testing for elective patients “should not require a patient to break isolation requirements,” the guidance says – adding the Department of Health and Social Care “is leading the rollout of home testing.”

Both elective and emergency departments are also told to put enhanced protection in place for patients considered ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ from covid-19.

Public Health England and NHS Digital are also establishing routine data collection systems on covid-19 which will allow levels of transmission at trust level to be “identified and tracked weekly”. This routine data will be available to trusts by the end of May, the guidance says.