NHS staff could be exempted from having to self-isolate when they are “pinged” by the Covid app from July 19, No10 said today.
Downing Street said an NHS staff exemption in England is “something we’re looking at ahead of step four” of Boris Johnson’s roadmap.
It comes after NHS hospitals warned the care backlog will become worse due to soaring numbers of staff having to self-isolate.
Ministers have already said they are looking at adjusting the Covid app, which pinged 356,036 contacts of a positive case into isolation in the week to June 30.
So far the suggestion has been that it could be made less sensitive after July 19 for anyone who’s been double-jabbed.
But asked if there could be a specific exemption for NHS staff, a No10 spokesman said: “It’s something we’re looking at ahead of step four, but we would obviously need to set out any updates in the usual way.”
Asked specifically a second time about an NHS staff exemption he replied: “As I say, it’s something we’re looking at ahead of step four.”
Asked if it could apply to the transport sector too he replied: “Not meaning to not specifically answer on particular professions, but we obviously keep all our measures under review and any changes would be set out in the usual way.”
The spokesman said exemptions are already in place for NHS staff who were wearing “appropriate medical-grade PPE.”
He added: “As I say, we obviously keep everything under review and we will continue to look at these things ahead of step four.
“And we would set out any changes or updates in the usual way.”
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said earlier this week: “There is real pressure on staffing levels, given how many staff are having to self-isolate.
“This will get worse after restrictions ease on 19 July. Many staff are also due to take well earned annual leave, which is a priority.
“The impact of summer leave will be much higher this year given how much leave has been held over from earlier in the year and last year due to Covid-19 pressures.
“So whilst Covid-19 admissions are likely to be much lower, the NHS is still likely, as a whole, to be under very significant pressure and this means something will have to give.
“Most likely, in many places, this will be speed of care backlog recovery because trusts can control this much more easily than the demand for emergency or Covid-19 care.”