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COVID-19: Communication to all Nurses

Dear Nurse,

I am writing to update you on key issues related to COVID-19 in what is a quickly changing situation.
I need to advise you that from today onwards you will be asked more specific questions if you are cancelling a shift as Trusts now require more detail from us. If you are not prepared to share this information with the booking officer then ask to speak to me.
Individual Trusts are now beginning to provide more detail about training, fit mask testing or which wards are going to be caring for suspected patients. Trust is moving to use wards due to a lack of induvial side room. This is perfectly normal it’s the same action which gets taken with other viruses e.g. winter vomiting.
As information is shared with us your booking teams or I will send this information to you as a nurse who works in that organisation.  We would NEVER withhold information from you.
Below are the following questions/concerns raised with me by those of you who have spoken to me since COVID-19 became an issue.


What can I do to protect myself?

Familiarise yourself with the infection control and protection measures where you are working. The relevant public health organisations are also updating guidance on a regular basis, you can also access information from the RCN at

The Trusts/Organisation in which you work is all carrying out risk assessments and putting in place measures to limit the risks surrounding COVID-19.
Fit Mask Testing - if you are working in an organisation where the wearing of FFP3 masks is required then the organisation will need to assess you.  Male nurses may be asked to trim/shave beards to ensure a good seal of the mask. Clearly religious observances will need to be checked with your religious leaders. If you are not passed as FFP3 this will impact on your ability to care for any patient where FFP3 requirements exist
Make sure you follow good hand hygiene practice
Rest breaks are really important. Fatigue can lead to mistakes and increase the risk of infection. If you are not being enabled to take you breaks you must let me know so I can address this with the Trust.

Can I refuse to care for patients with COVID-19?

No, you cannot refuse to care for a patient regardless of their confirmed or suspected diagnosis unless you have a medical reason and have been advised by a Doctor or OH service otherwise. If you think this may be an issue speak to your GP and then advise me so Trusts can be made aware when you are being booked.
If the required protective equipment for that patient is not provided then you will need to take immediate advice from the site Manager or Ward/Dept Manager/Matron and if you are still concerned call the on-call Senior nurse for ICG Medical Ltd on 07496882532

Will my agency provide the protective equipment I need to care for a patient who is isolated due to COVID-19?

The protective equipment will need to be provided by the organisation you are working in as this will meet their Infection Control Policy. The Trust will also provide Fit Mask Testing for those agency nurses who are required to care for patients with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. These will be predominately A&E, ITU and Respiratory/specialist areas, but you will be advised as we are

Will I be paid extra for caring for COVID-19 patients?

Hospitals are not increasing the sums paid to agencies for caring for COVID-19 patients.   

When do I self-isolate and who do I tell at my agency?

You need only to self-isolate when you are advised to do so by the NHS 111 service in England, NHS24 in Scotland and in Northern Ireland by your GP.
If you are advised to self-isolate you must contact the Head of Nursing for ICG Medical immediately on 07496 882 532 who will then take the relevant action and give you advice.
If you are required to self-isolate we will notify all the Trusts you have worked at through an ICG Medical brand in the previous 7 days.
If you are confirmed as being COVID-19 positive we will notify all the Trusts you have worked at in the last 14 days.

Do I have to take any special precautions if I am pregnant?

There is no evidence of increased risk for pregnant women unless you have an underlying health condition in which case consult your obstetrician and midwife or speak to NHS 111 service in England, NHS24 in Scotland and in Northern Ireland your GP

If I have to self-isolate will I be paid?

You will need to address this with your employer who in most cases is your umbrella organisation. At this time it is not a mandatory requirement for staff to be paid sick pay unless they are ill. Currently, the advice from the Govt is it will be at an employer’s discretion.

Where can I get financial help and advice if I cannot work?

You should speak to your bank/building society who will be able to advise you of the assistance that they can offer you. Your Union/RCN can also give advice to you.  
If you have any further concerns please do not hesitate to contact me.


Miriam Palk 
Head of Nursing | 07496 882 532