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This week NHS staff in the capital were warned not to stage protests during the pandemic or face police action.
NHS England and Improvement appeared to be passing on a warning from the Metropolitan Police.
The message sent out to all sustainability and transformation partnerships to disseminate, was prompted by a small group of staff who staged a demonstration outside of Westminster.
The banner allegedly held by the 10 NHS staff said: “We saved Boris. Now give us a pay rise.”
Whether by coincidence or plan, the protest and subsequent police warning came in the same week the Telegraph reported on potential government plans to freeze public sector pay.
Considering the NHS has been at the centre of the covid-19 crisis – and its staff praised as heroes – this warning will have been particularly galling to some.
While it is right for all to adhere to social distancing, one does question the timing of the regulator’s email.
The even newer normal
It’s clear that as the NHS re-starts more elective care, it won’t be business as usual for trusts or their patients.
Patients for elective surgery will only be admitted to hospital if they – along with the rest of their household – have self-isolated for two weeks.
Testing of patients will also be more extensive, according to new guidance issued by NHS England. All emergency patients will be tested on admission, and re-tested after five to seven days if they get a negative result. And, where possible, elective patients will also be tested three days before admission.
Trusts have also been told there should be routine tests of asymptomatic NHS staff.
And emergency and outpatient appointments will have to allow for social distancing – even for asymptomatic patients.