coronavirus

COVID-19 (coronavirus) FAQs

Our frequently asked questions about COVID-19 and work

Find out how to protect yourself, what you should expect from your employer and what to do if you have concerns.

 

The information below has been compiled by RCN advisers in public health, infection control, and employment relations. We'll be updating it as the situation develops - so please do check back often.

We are working hard in these challenging times to keep you updated. If you can't find what you are looking for please see our Get help page or contact us and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

 

What is coronavirus or COVID-19?

In late December 2019 a new (novel) coronavirus was identified in China causing severe respiratory disease including pneumonia. The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised that the virus responsible is named severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and the disease it causes is COVID-19. For more information visit the NHS website which is continually being updated by the government. 

Is there a vaccine?

Globally, scientists are working to develop a vaccine. As a newly identified virus there is currently no human immunity to it and no vaccine currently available to prevent infection. As a viral infection, antibiotics are not an effective treatment.

What can I do about it?

Nursing staff should familiarise themselves with their local policies on emergency planning, infection prevention and control and other relevant guidance in addition to any national guidance issued by the Department of Health and Social Care and the relevant UK public health agencies.

We are in a fast-moving, evolving situation and as with any new strain of virus, the guidance is being updated frequently so it’s important you look at our latest information online

What is the current advice about using NSAIDs?

NHS England have released the following advice (Alert Letter 17 March 2020):

“There has been concern about the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) in relation to Covid-19 following a statement by the French Health Minister (a clinician) advising against the use of ibuprofen. 

This statement was based on provisional information reported from French care settings which UK authorities have not seen and is, to date, unpublished. There is no current literature on the impact of NSAIDs use in Covid-19. 

There appears to be some evidence for SARS 1 that there may be an adverse impact on pneumonia. There is also some literature suggesting NSAIDs may increase complications from simple acute respiratory infections or slow recovery. However the evidence is not conclusive overall. 

There appears to be no evidence that NSAIDs increase the chance of acquiring Covid-19. In view of the current lack of clarity the Commission on Human Medicines (an advisory body of MHRA) and NICE have been asked to review the evidence. 

It is therefore suggested that, in the interim, for patients, who have confirmed Covid-19 or believe they have Covid-19, that they use paracetamol in preference to NSAIDs. 

Those currently on NSAIDs for other medical reasons (e.g. arthritis) should not stop them. 

This position will be kept under constant review.”

I’m being bullied by my manager/colleague. What do I do?

Our position on bullying and harassment is clear: staff must be able to do their jobs without fear of bullying or harassment from colleagues, patients or third parties in any form. Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect at work. Any form of bullying and harassment of health and care staff in the workplace, be that from managers, co-workers, patients or members of the public, is completely unacceptable.

Throughout this pandemic, health and care staff may be experiencing and feeling high levels of anxiety and stress. It is crucial for all employers to ensure that all health and care staff providing patient care, whether they are a registered health professional, student, volunteer, or agency worker, can do so in safety. 

Comprehensive advice on practical steps you can take is available in our bullying and harassment advice guide


See our clinical guidance pages for information and advice on issues including:

  • infection prevention and control
  • community nursing
  • critical care
  • ethical guidance
  • mental health
  • palliative and end of life care
  • prisons
  • prescribing safely under COVID-19, and
  • social care and care homes.

What should I do if I feel anxious about possible risk of exposure?

You may have concerns about possible exposure to coronavirus in your workplace or in your personal life, for example after travel. For work-related concerns, contact your local infection prevention control lead, follow their advice and alert your manager. If you are not aware who your infection prevention control lead is, check your local policy or ask your manager.

For other queries, find more information on the NHS website which is continually being updated by the government.

What if I have to give CPR to someone with suspected COVID-19?

The Resuscitation Council UK has issued specific statements on CPR in various health care settings in relation to COVID-19 to remind people that early CPR and defibrillation gives the best chance of survival. 

In health and care settings, where possible staff should wear PPE (apron, gloves, appropriate masks) when responding to all cardiac arrests. 

Out of hospital, it will be difficult to determine if a person has confirmed or suspected COVID-19 in cardiac arrest. In determining cardiac arrest, when checking for breathing, do not place your cheek alongside the patient’s face. Cardiac arrest should be presumed in the absence of all other signs of life. If you do not have PPE, resuscitation should be limited to defibrillation and compression-only CPR and call 999.

For more information, visit the Resuscitation Council UK’s website.

My employer is asking me to sign a waiver. Should I?

Some RCN members have been asked by their employers to sign documents which exempt them or their employer from adhering to the government’s advice in order to fulfil their role.

The RCN does not support the use of these documents in any situation and urges all health and care staff to follow the government’s advice. We expect all employers to undertake individual risk assessments for any staff within vulnerable groups and to make alternative arrangements, including the option of redeployment, to support individuals to abide by the government advice.

If you continue to be asked to sign these types of documents please call RCN Direct on 0345 7726100.

What should I expect from my employer?

Employers should ensure that all nursing staff are provided with factual information on COVID-19, the steps being taken to identify and manage suspected cases and what nursing staff can do to protect themselves, including reinforcing hand hygiene

Please refer to your relevant national public health / NHS guidance. Information can also be found on our COVID-19 page.

Staff who may be required to deliver clinical care to affected patients should have the necessary skills and experience, and be provided with training and information on any additional infection prevention and control measures needed to work in such environments, including putting on and taking off personal protective equipment (PPE) safely. Employers should make sure staff have access to the appropriate PPE.

Employers are responsible for complying with all health and safety standards, contractual and statutory employment rights as well as equality rights.

How can I protect myself at work?

Your employer should be carrying out risk assessments and putting measures in place to minimise the risk of exposure by following current public health guidelines on the provision and use of PPE, as well as supplies of alcohol hand gel where appropriate.

You should also be given information and training on the risks of exposure and how to minimise your risk. If you’re required to use PPE, you should be given training on how to properly use this.

The situation is changing daily and the number of cases in the UK is increasing rapidly. Make sure you follow workplace guidelines and safety procedures and practice good hand hygiene. 

Please refer to your relevant national public health/NHS guidance and visit the UK government website for the most up-to-date guidance for health care professionals on the assessment and management of suspected UK cases. 

Information can also be found on our COVID-19 page. If you feel your organisation is not providing the right support, see the section below on raising concerns.

What other safeguards should my employer be putting in place?

Rest breaks are very important, even more so at times like this, as fatigue can lead to mistakes and increase the risk of infection. The duty is on your employer to ensure staff can take regular breaks and monitor working hours to prevent the onset of mental and physical fatigue. Wearing protective clothing for long periods can be uncomfortable and hot so, as well as rest breaks, it is also important for staff to keep hydrated. 

Staff employed under NHS terms and conditions, can find more information on our page COVID-19 employment guidance for NHS staff.

Other RCN members, including those working in general practice, through employment agencies and in the independent sector, should check their contract of employment and local policies in the first instance, or contact their employer or local occupational health service, for information and advice.

If you are struggling financially as a result of the Covid-19 virus, the RCN Welfare Service has guidance on entitlements or benefits that may be available to you, advice on what to do if you're struggling with your rent, mortgage, or creditors, and how to access further support.

See COVID-19 and your finances for more details.

If you're a student, see our advice here.

 

I am employed in the independent sector and have been placed on furlough leave. Can I work for the NHS whilst furloughed?

Some health and social care employees have been placed on furlough leave and as a result of the government’s job retention scheme, their employer will be able to claim up to 80% of their income capped at £2,500 per month. You can read more about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on the government website. 

The rules clearly state that employees cannot do any work for their employer for the duration of their furlough leave. 

If you had more than one job prior to being placed on furlough, you could be furloughed in respect of each job or, furloughed for one while continuing to work in another job.

If you only have one job, and you have been placed on furlough leave and want to start a new job (eg. in the NHS, on the staff bank), you need to check this with your main employer. You would need their agreement to take on another job whilst on furlough leave. However, this is not expressly set out in the current government guidance and may change as the scheme comes into operation. 

What about agency workers?

To retain their eligibility for pay protection under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, agency workers must not take on any work in their period of furlough.

See our Immigration Advice Service pages.

I’m being redeployed – do I have indemnity cover?

If you are providing any NHS-funded care (regardless of your employer) you are covered by a government-backed indemnity scheme in England and Wales. Entry onto these schemes is automatic. In Scotland and Northern Ireland there are slightly different arrangements for GP services. 

To provide further reassurance, the new emergency legislation confirms that indemnity will be provided for those who are responding to the COVID-19 emergency across the four countries, and will include those who backfill posts as well as front line staff. 


During these challenging times, you may be finding it difficult to maintain your mental health and wellbeing when coping with so much uncertainty and turmoil at home and at work.

For tips and resources on self care and looking after your mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak, see COVID-19 and your mental wellbeing for more details.

If you need further emotional support, you can access the RCN Counselling service, who are operating as normal to support members during this time.

Please go to nmc.org.uk/COVID19 for the latest information from the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Where do I find the latest guidance on appropriate PPE?

The latest guidelines are available in the UK government’s infection prevention and control guidance.

Read the RCN position on PPE here.

I am concerned that the PPE in my workplace is insufficient. What should I do?

Organisations must have effective procedures in place to allow nursing staff and their representatives to raise any concerns in relation to equipment, policies and processes for managing COVID-19 at the earliest opportunity.

Nursing staff should feel able to raise concerns without detriment and should receive timely feedback on their concerns. If your concerns remain unresolved, refer to our raising concerns guidance and speak to your line manager. You can also call RCN Direct for advice on 0345 772 6100.

Should I accept a donation of home-made PPE?

Personal protective equipment for use in health and care settings must meet specified health and safety standards included within the product specifications for examination gloves, gowns, surgical face masks, respirator masks and eye protection.

This is to ensure reliable and effective protection against infection, and ensure PPE is fit for purpose. Any personal protective equipment made by hand, for example cotton face masks, will not provide the level of protection required against COVID-19.

The RCN is clear that health care workers must not accept any PPE hand made donations. Your employer will provide you with high standard personal protective equipment meeting health and safety standards.

Anyone wishing to donate equipment to the health service as part of the COVID-19 response should visit the government website.

Do I need to wear PPE to undertake verification of death? 

The RCN guidance on DNACPR and verification of death includes the need to wear PPE as an element of standard infection control precautions. Find out more at COVID-19 guidance on DNACPR  and verification of death.

What if I’m pregnant?

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has issued updated guidance on pregnancy and COVID-19, including occupational health advice for employers and pregnant women. There is different advice depending on your stage of pregnancy (i.e. before or after 28 weeks of pregnancy).

The RCN expects employers and occupational health to carry out or review a pregnancy risk assessment and put systems in place to protect the health care worker and find suitable alternative work, including home working or redeployment in line with health and safety standards.

Where the risk can't be removed and suitable alternative work is not available then you should be suspended on full paid leave for as long as necessary to protect your health and safety, or that of your unborn child.

You should escalate concerns to your line manager in the first instance. You may also wish to liaise with your GP or midwife, if you are concerned.  

Can I be made to start my maternity leave early?

If you’re being asked to take early maternity leave you should inform your employer that pregnant staff cannot be required to start maternity leave early. The only requirement to start maternity leave early is if a worker has a pregnancy-related illness in the 4 weeks before their baby is due.

If your employer cannot offer you suitable alternative work, including moving to a different work area or working from home you should be medically suspended on full pay. The statutory right to medical suspension pay applies to employees across the UK who have been in their job for one month and the right lasts for 26 weeks. 

If you’re being forced to take early maternity leave notwithstanding the above, you should contact RCN Direct on 0345 7726100.

What if I have concerns about how coronavirus is being handled in my workplace?

Organisations should have effective procedures in place to allow nursing staff and their representatives to raise any concerns in relation to equipment, policies and processes for managing COVID-19 at the earliest opportunity.

Nursing staff should feel able to raise concerns without detriment and should receive timely feedback on their concerns. If your concerns remain unresolved, refer to our raising concerns guidance and speak to your line manager. You can also call RCN Direct for advice on 0345 772 6100.

What about confidentiality?

Organisations should have systems in place for keeping the details of staff involved in caring for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 confidential. Employees should also respect each other’s confidentially and take care not to inadvertently share information when using social media, for example.

Where staff are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, their personal details should be treated as confidential, as they would be for any other patient.

What is the role of RCN safety representatives?

RCN safety representatives should be kept informed of measures being taken to protect staff and there should be mechanisms in place that allow safety representatives to raise concerns with senior managers, health and safety, or infection control leads on behalf of staff. 

Members who are concerned should speak to their local RCN safety representative and/or contact RCN Direct on 0345 772 6100.

Please see our guidance on redeployment.


Can I refuse to treat a patient with COVID-19?

You should speak to your manager about your concerns in the first instance and consult our guidance around refusal to treat.

I work for a hospital bank and want to cancel my shifts. What do I do?

Speak directly to the staff bank and read your bank contract to check the process you’re required to follow. Try to give the staff bank as much notice as possible to enable them to cover your shift. Make sure you keep records of who you speak to and when.

What’s the RCN’s position on retired nurses returning to work to help with the response to COVID-19?

Retired nurses are being encouraged by the UK and devolved governments to return to clinical practice in light of the COVID-19 situation. However they need only return to work if they choose to.

Will returning to work have an impact on my NHS Pension if I have retired?

In short – no.  Following representations from the RCN, the UK government has included helpful measures in the emergency Coronavirus Bill that relate to the NHS Pension (in all UK countries). This means that the three NHS Pension schemes (England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) are amended during this period so that -

  • Members who have retired will be able return to work without impact on their NHS pension benefits – regardless of the number of hours they work or salary they receive*.  (Usually pension is abated (reduced) if a retiree returns to NHS employment that leads to them earning more than they did before they retired when their pension is added to their NHS salary.)
  • Members in the 2008 section or 2015 scheme will not have to reduce their pensionable pay by 10% to take advantage of flexible retirement options and draw down their pension. (Usually this is done achieved by reducing working commitments or stepping down to a role with a lower salary).

* NHS earnings and NHS pension payments will still be subject to income tax at the usual rates.

Will I need to inform my NHS Pension administrator if I return to work under this initiative?

Your employer should make any necessary notifications.

All NHS Pension administrators (E&W, S and NI) are operating under their business continuity arrangements in order to provide a full service to scheme members and pensioners during this time.  However, some non-critical processes may take more time as their workforce is reduced as staff have to work from home, are self-isolating or unwell.  They are also supporting employers who may need to change some of their administrative processes due to other pressures.

Can I access childcare even though the schools are closed? 

The UK governments have each published guidance on who will count as key workers for the purposes of on-going educational provision.  

The RCN expects all governments in the UK to ensure that the provision of childcare through the school system for key workers will apply to all staff working in health or social care settings, including staff in GP surgeries, those providing services for the NHS through the independent sector providers and staff employed by health-related arms-length bodies - as well as public health staff working for local authorities. 

Will I be paid if I’m asked to self-isolate?

Public Health England (PHE) has issued stay at home guidance for households with possible COVID-19. This applies to health and care staff as well as the general public.

It is vital that health and care staff do not suffer any financial detriment or loss of pay for being away from work in order to protect public safety. All health and care employers in the UK must ensure that when staff self-isolate, in accordance with national public health guidelines, they must be paid in full. This includes all health and care staff - regardless of who their employer is, or what type of health or care service they work in.

Governments across the UK are preparing guidance on terms and conditions of service during the COVID-19 pandemic, including arrangements for pay during periods of self-isolation. This guidance can be found here: COVID-19 employment guidance for NHS staff. We expect independent employers to also pay their staff normal pay, following the example of the NHS.

If you’re self-isolating and have not been paid your normal pay, you need to raise the issue with your employer and ask the reason for this in writing. This should be done before contacting the RCN for further advice. If you have your employer’s written response but you haven’t been able to resolve the issue, you should raise your concerns with your local RCN representative directly or by contacting RCN Direct on 0345 772 6100.

I need to self-isolate but my employer is not supportive. What do I do?

The stay at home guidance applies to health and care staff the same as the general public. People must self-isolate if they have symptoms or live with someone who does, in accordance with this guidance.

We know that despite meeting some of the criteria in the guidance, some of our members are being asked to remain at work by their employer when they should self-isolate. This puts key workers at exceptional risk and is totally inappropriate. We expect all health and care employers to adhere to the guidance. Managers who do not follow guidance are putting staff and patients at risk.

If you’re not supported by your employer to remain at home as per the guidance, inform your manager in writing that you are following UK government guidance and need to stay away from work. You should request adjustments to be made for you to work from home if you are well and it is possible/appropriate, and advise your employer that your will return to your workplace after 7 or 14 days, depending on the circumstances.

We expect all governments in the UK and employers to ensure that where health and care staff are self-isolating, they will be paid in full. No health and care staff should experience any financial detriment when taking credible steps to protect their safety, and that of their colleagues and patients.

My employer is asking me to sign a waiver. Should I?

Some RCN members have been asked by their employers to sign documents which exempt them or their employer from adhering to the government’s advice on self-isolation in order to fulfil their role.

The RCN does not support the use of these documents in any situation and urges all health and care staff to follow the government’s advice. We expect all employers to undertake individual risk assessments for any staff within vulnerable groups and to make alternative arrangements, including the option of redeployment, to support individuals to abide by the government advice.

If you continue to be asked to sign these types of documents please call RCN Direct on 0345 7726100.

What if I care for someone who is shielding and have concerns about exposure?

If you are a carer, and cannot continue in your role whilst also caring for a vulnerable individual, you should discuss this with your line manager. They may be able to offer redeployment to a role which has a manageable level of risk for you. Otherwise, you may want to consider applying for time off, such as carers leave. You can read about different types of leave in our time off work guide.

Staff should escalate concerns to their line manager in the first instance. The RCN has advice on how staff can approach raising concerns. Further guidance for employees and employers is also available.

Will I get paid if I’m off sick for a long period because of coronavirus?

If you work in the NHS, read section 14 of the National Terms and Conditions of Service Handbook and seek advice from your local occupational health service for information on this. 

If you work outside the NHS, you should check your local policies for any contractual rights to sick pay and contact your local occupational health service or manager for information.  

If you do not have a contractual right to sick pay, you can find out about statutory sick pay

See more RCN information about sick pay and sick leave. 

If you have concerns that your employer is not complying with your contractual or statutory entitlements, contact RCN Direct on 0345 772 6100. 

What if I’m an agency worker or hospital bank staff?

We would recommend that you speak directly to your agency or staff bank to ask about their local policy in this context. The general advice above on self-isolation and sick pay also applies to you. 

What are the rules around statutory sick pay in respect of coronavirus?

The government has announced it will introduce legislation that will temporarily remove the “three-day rule” for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), so that it will be payable from the first day of sickness. 

The government has also indicated that it will temporarily extend SSP to cover:

  • individuals who are unable to work because they have been advised to self-isolate
  • people caring for those within the same household who display COVID-19 symptoms and have been told to self-isolate.

The RCN is awaiting more details about this. In the meantime, your employer should confirm what you’re entitled to if you need to self-isolate. See more information about statutory sick pay

What help does the RCN offer if I’m struggling financially?

Our welfare service provides expert advice and information on benefits, debt, housing and more. Our Lamplight support service also helps those experiencing circumstances that have an impact on their finances. See COVID-19 and your finances for more details.

What will happen if I’m in receipt of benefits or need to make a new claim for benefits?

The government has announced that it will be making temporary arrangements for people affected by coronavirus who are already claiming benefits or who are making a new claim for benefits. For more information, visit the government’s universal credit website. You can also contact the RCN’s welfare service for advice.

Is early registration voluntary or compulsory?

Early registration is on a voluntary basis, it is not compulsory to register. Third year nursing students may opt to take their last six months as a placement. 

Guidance can be found on the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) website to support students to make an informed decision.

Students must discuss their eligibility with their university.

Students should work to the NMC code of conduct, preserving safety at all times. 

What support will I get in practice?

Support will be provided for the emergency registrants to provide safeguarding for the emergency registrant, existing workforce and patients. 

The practice area will need to take into account your knowledge and experience around the environment you are asked to work in. Further support can be accessed in the RCN redeployment guidance.  

You must discuss your assessment of competence and confidence with the nurse in charge.

What payment and employment rights will I have?

Chief Nursing Officers across the UK are developing appropriate deployment guidance, including terms and conditions and remuneration.

The deployment guidance will address employment status and protection, remuneration according to the complexity and responsibility of the role.

In countries where students receive a bursary, clarification is needed on arrangements during their temporary registration. For students in England we continue to call for tuition support and/or loan forgiveness. 

If I am not eligible for the voluntary register, what happens to me?

You may not be eligible for early registration. Your university will be able to discuss your eligibility with you. 

The RCN has secured commitments to ensure that no student is disadvantaged if they choose not to opt in. 

What will I be accountable for?

Students will remain accountable for the care that they provide. 

It is essential that students only undertake care that they feel they are competent and confident to carry out. 

Where can I find out more?

Please see our information on nursing workforce expansion.

Read our guidance to support you and your team as you welcome those returning to practice at this time.

Health and care workers are being exposed to COVID-19 in their workplaces and in their communities. We are clear that the UK government and devolved governments must prioritise testing of all health and care staff urgently. This must be universally available to all staff, irrespective of whether they present with symptoms or have been caring for patients with COVID-19. Without this, frontline health and care staff cannot be safe nor can they be deployed safely or effectively. When it is available, antibody testing must be undertaken to determine those who are immune from the virus. Both of these measures will not only keep staff safe, but enable health and care services to plan and support our workforce as effectively as possible, including in particularly high risk areas such as critical care.

Testing to identify health and care professionals for COVID-19 is vital in supporting infection prevention and control decisions, including the necessary use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the correct isolation of patients. At this time of year many people are still experiencing cold and flu symptoms. Because of this, our health and care workforce need the ability to exclude or confirm COVID-19 cases within staff, so that not every person with potential symptoms has to self-isolate, removing themselves from the active workforce.

Widespread testing also protects the families of health and care workers, helping to allay many of the fears experienced by these staff.


What if I have an underlying health condition and have concerns about exposure?

The government guidance lists people who may be more vulnerable to or have a higher risk of complications and higher mortality than the general population. 

The current government guidelines advise that these individuals should practice social distancing. This means that they should avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus. Also avoid non-essential use of public transport, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour, when possible and work from home where possible.  

The RCN would expect employers and occupational health leads to carry out a risk assessment and put systems in place to allow the health care worker to practice social distancing, including home working. 

Staff should escalate concerns to their line manager in the first instance. The RCN has advice on how staff can approach raising concerns.

Further guidance for employees and employers is also available.

RCN members who wish to support the delivery of care and treatment to patients and the public during the pandemic can do so in a range of ways, including:

  • redeploying to a different clinical setting
  • returning to clinical practice
  • joining the temporary NMC register, or
  • volunteering. 

Our guidance on redeployment will help you if you're changing or taking on a new role.

If you are registered nurse who has left the register within the last 3 years you can apply to re-join the temporary NMC register and find more information about how to do this on the NMC website. Read further information and FAQs for nurses and midwives wishing to return to work in the NHS.

England 

For nurses who are already on the NMC register wishing to return to clinical practice you will need to apply directly to any local employers who you wish to work for (see below). This is the same for those who wish to work as a nursing support worker.

Many employers are setting up fast track recruitment systems to support this. Check local websites for information. You can also join an employer’s bank or an agency to work flexibly.

Some organisations in England use NHS Professionals who have set up a rapid response process.
 
Most jobs within the NHS across England and Wales are advertised on NHS Jobs website

If you're interested in volunteering (as opposed to working) to support efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, NHS Volunteer Responders is a new group that will carry out simple, non-medical tasks to support people in England who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions. They will be used by healthcare professionals to make sure people who are highly vulnerable are able to stay safe and well at home.

For more information:
GoodSAM
NHS England

Northern Ireland

Members in Northern Ireland who are interested in volunteering in hospitals should contact their local Health and Social Care Board for more information,

For paid work opportunities, please go to the HCSNI Jobs website for more information.

Scotland

Members in Scotland who are returning to clinical practice, or are currently practicing but want to be redeployed to work for NHS Scotland can find more information on the Scottish government webpages

Paid work opportunities can also be located through contacting agencies and through the NHS Scotland jobs site.

For members in Scotland, volunteering opportunities can be found by approaching your local NHS Board directly or through contacting Volunteer Scotland.

Wales

In addition to NHS Jobs, links to current vacancies for registered nurses and healthcare support workers can be found on each Health Board’s website

Volunteering opportunities can be found at Volunteering Wales.

My hands are sore because of increased handwashing and use of gloves. What should I do?

Nursing staff are recognised as a high-risk group for developing work-related dermatitis of the hands. Frequent exposure to water, handwashing and glove use can all irritate the skin on the hands and make it red, sore and dry. It is really important to take care of the skin on your hands and moisturise as regularly as possible, but as a minimum at the end of a shift and before a break.

Your employer should have a system in place for monitoring the skin on your hands and provide hand moisturising creams containing emollients for use at work. For more information on work-related dermatitis visit the RCN’s resources.

I’ve been asked to shave my facial hair. Do I have to?

If a risk assessment and public health guidelines identify that you may be required to wear an FFP3 face mask as a form of personal protective equipment, it is important to be clean shaven in order to get a good protective seal of the mask to the face.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, you are required to co-operate with the employer to ensure they meet their legal requirements to protect your health and safety and those of other staff.

In circumstances where beards are worn for religious reasons, or where someone has a skin condition that makes it impractical to shave every day, alternative personal protective equipment in the form of respiratory hoods should be offered for those working in areas where FFP3 is deemed necessary.

What should I do if I'm worried about my registration and revalidation?

The process of registration and revalidation is managed by the NMC. You can contact them via the NMC contact centre. During COVID-19, revalidation will be extended for 3 months. Please see the NMC for more information. 

Additional information from the RCN

See our COVID-19 webpages for more information and resources to support your understanding and management of Covid-19, including:

Clinical guidance

Redeployment

Information for students on workforce expansion

Our latest media statements

Guidance for NHS trusts and health care staff

Staff employed under NHS terms and conditions can find more information on our page COVID-19 employment guidance for NHS staff.

Other RCN members, including those working in general practice, through employment agencies and in the independent sector, should check their contract of employment and local policies in the first instance, or contact their employer or local occupational health service, for information and advice. 

Join our coronavirus network

 To support you with communication and enable you to raise any concerns or provide feedback, an RCN virtual network has been set up and will operate for the duration of the outbreak.

Information sent out via the network will be in addition to that posted on our COVID-19 webpages. If you wish to join the network and receive email communication from the RCN on this issue, please request to join by sending an email to coronavirus@rcn.org.uk

You may leave the network at any time by requesting to opt out of further emails and your information will only be used for the purposes of information on this issue. 



What is 'social distancing'?

What is 'self-isolation'?

What is 'shielding'?

Hand washing guidance

Download a poster featuring our latest guidance on hand washing and hand hygiene

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Page last updated - 04/04/2020