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Calls from trust chiefs to relax the rules around infection control in hospitals have been – more or less – heeded, with new national guidance which marks a significant relaxation in the rules.

NHS England has relaxed the isolation period for inpatients with covid-19 after the UK Health Security Agency changed its recommendations.

It means that covid-19 positive inpatients now only have to isolate for seven days if they test negative on lateral flow tests two days in a row. Before, they had to complete the full 10 days of isolation.

Inpatients also no longer have to isolate if they are identified as contacts of covid-19 cases.

In a letter sent last week, NHSE has appeared to go beyond UKHSA published guidance on physical distancing.

NHSE is now calling for the return of “pre-pandemic physical distancing in all areas”, whereas UKHSA recommends one metre distancing where possible – rising to two metres in areas where there are confirmed or suspected respiratory patients.

However, many of the cohorting rules around covid-19 patients remain – meaning that this is only a step in the transition back to pre-pandemic infection control measures.

Coming soon

Although describing integrated care system ratings as a “bit of a distraction” in an interview with HSJ its chief executive Ian Trenholm set out what systems could soon expect to see over the coming months.

He said the Care Quality Commission is creating a single assessment framework, which would incorporate inspection findings for health systems as well as individual providers, describing it as a “comprehensive picture of an ICS that talks about the contribution that all partners are making”.

In recent months, following news that there is only one “inadequate” rated trust in England, Mr Trenholm also addressed criticism that current CQC ratings do not reflect reality.

He couldn’t be drawn in much detail about the accuracy of ratings, considering current pressure on the system, but said the regulator would be sticking to a focused inspection regime for now and that he also wanted to see a different approach to risk within the system.

“My appeal to chief executives would be look at the broader suite of services you’ve got in front of you,” he said, revealing that the regulator would focus on rating individual services, rather than overall ratings in the future.

Also on today

Let The Primer bring you up to speed on health coverage beyond HSJ’s walls, including this week a poll that suggests young people are more willing than other age groups to pay for private healthcare, and in our tech expert briefing The Download Nicholas Carding takes a look at the Goldacre Review’s ideas on future NHS data use.