- Non-clinical staff are to ‘come to work as normal’ at Guys and Thomas’ Foundation Trust
- Health systems in the capital are halting non-essential work to free up staff to support frontline providers
One of the largest teaching trusts in England has told its non-clinical staff to go into work as normal, as it continues to plan its response to the coronavirus outbreak.
In an email sent last night, seen by HSJ, Ian Abbs, chief executive of Guys and Thomas’ Foundation Trust, called for all staff to go into work as normal.
He wrote: “As we work to establish the needs of the trust so we can provide the right care to our patients, all staff, clinical and non-clinical, should come to work as normal.”
Mr Abbs told staff there had been many questions about “the government’s advice for people potentially more at risk from coronavirus”. He said that, “while there is no further update to provide today, we are working hard to make sure you have greater clarity and reassurance as soon as possible”.
National guidance issued to trusts on Tuesday left it open for trust leaders to make decisions about non-clinical staff working.
However, the Prime Minister has stressed how important it is for all but ”key workers” to work from home if they can to slow the relatively rapid spread of the virus across the capital.
Mr Abbs also referred to concerns about personal protective equipment, such as face masks, saying: “We are aware that many of you continue to have concerns about the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as questions about the government’s advice for people potentially more at risk from coronavirus, including those who are pregnant. While there is no further update to provide today, we are working hard to make sure you have greater clarity and reassurance as soon as possible.”
A spokesperson for Guy’s and St Thomas’ said: “We consider all of our staff, clinical and non-clinical, as vital to our response to the current and unprecedented situation, and our ability to provide the care that our patients need.
“For staff who fall into one of Public Health England’s increased risk categories, we are discussing their circumstances with them on an individual basis. In line with national guidance, we will then support them to continue working wherever possible by making any necessary adjustments.”
Meanwhile, sustainability and transformation partnerships in the capital are redeploying their non-clinical staff as they halt work on non-essential programmes.
Jane Milligan, the accountable officer of the northeast London health system, sent out guidance on 17 March saying: “If you are able to come to work, we really need you to do so. As NHS employees, we need to lead the response to this pandemic and support our provider colleagues who are on the frontline.”
Further guidance issued to staff in northeast London the following day said the system will need to “maintain a careful balance of enabling people to work in an agile way” while also being clear staff “may need to be deployed to frontline services to support efforts to keep essential services running”.
However, there appears to still be confusion over whether staff are obliged to come into the office. HSJ understands some are being allowed to work from home, but other sources in northeast London have said some managers are obliging staff to work from their offices despite having equipment to work remotely.
Information provided to HSJ