Tony Stein, chief executive of Healthcare Management Solutions, says it’s time to end isolation for COVID asymptomatic employees.
HCMS has around 60 care homes in the UK with 2,300 employees. We now have had more than 500 team members – around a quarter of our workforce – who have tested positive for COVID.
Most of them have been asymptomatic. The removal of the PCR element of the isolation period is welcome but we should go a step further and remove isolation periods entirely for these people.
In a highly vaccinated population like the UK, where a drastically milder version of COVID is becoming prevalent, it is time for the Government and public to accept that asymptomatic people shouldn’t isolate.
Evidence suggests that if you’re double-vaccinated and boosted – like all social care staff are mandated to be – you aren’t going to get seriously ill. A vast majority of residents are also vaccinated.
There is a flaw in the argument that the purpose of isolation is to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed. Most people with COVID are not ending up in hospital, and those that are, are less ill and for a shorter time.
In fact, at this point the cure could be worse than the disease itself. In December, there were roughly 14,000 patients who had been stuck in a hospital bed for over three weeks. Nearly 9,000 of these were deemed ready for discharge – but the number of carers isolating meant care homes didn’t have the staffing levels to receive them.
This clearly has a knock-on effect and is preventing other patients from receiving treatment. We’ve already seen this over the last two years with increased waiting times and cancelled surgeries. Not to mention the cost to the taxpayer for SSP and Isolation Payments – the public are suffering because of a flawed policy.
And at a care home level, having a significant hole in the workforce means that it can be very difficult to manage visiting, which is obviously very important for our residents and their families – especially after the last two years.