Published: 1 December 2020
Our frontline workers have shown tireless dedication to their colleagues and their patients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the virus is still circulating and we must remain hyper-vigilant about infection control measures.
We all feel a duty of care to show up for work and support the team effort but please do not to go to work if you feel you have any symptoms that could be COVID-19 or any viral respiratory illness. It is the only way to keep yourself, those you work with, and those you care for, safe from infection.
There has been an increase in COVID-19 infections in healthcare settings and it is especially important that we all play our part in keeping the virus out, particularly as we exit Level 5 restrictions.
Watch Martin Cormican, HSE Lead, National Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control Team, highlight the importance of not coming to work with any kind of virus symptoms.
The most important resource in our health services is our staff. Our staff are working in the most challenging health period in decades and every one of us has to continue to protect our health and the health of our colleagues and the people we care for by following infection prevention and control and public health guidance. This is tough to do all the time. It is especially hard to keep up the effort during busy or stressful periods that are the everyday experience of the healthcare service and if you are tired at the end of a shift.
It is especially hard to cope without the support of face-to-face discussion of clinical problems and the banter on breaks that helps to release the stress. But the virus is an unforgiving enemy so we need everyone all the time to:
- Keep your distance, perform hand hygiene often, wear a mask and follow all infection prevention guidance
- Do not come to work if you have any symptoms of viral respiratory tract infection even if your GP advises that you do not need a COVID-19 test at the moment. You should not come into work until you have been better for 48 hours.
- Do not come to work if you are a contact or are waiting for a test.
These guidelines don’t just apply if you are working on a COVID-19 ward. Wherever you work, on the frontline or not, you must stay at home if you are showing any symptoms or if you are a confirmed close contact of somebody with COVID-19.
We must also remember that the risk of COVID-19 infection doesn’t go away when you are out of the clinical area. We cannot afford to let our guard down at all. Think about how you engage with your friends and colleagues at break times, in changing rooms, on corridors etc.
Do not sit closer than two metres to someone during your break and don’t stand talking in groups in the corridors. If you cannot maintain a two-metre distance, remember to wear your mask. Healthcare staff should wear surgical face masks in all public work areas.
It is important that you remember that you must not bring personal items into clinical areas. When caring for people, remove any jewellery or fitness bands from your wrists.
Remember that face-to-face meetings should be avoided unless they are absolutely necessary. The smallest number of people in the largest room possible is the ideal.
You can check out the options for safe online meetings here When face-to-face training is unavoidable, ensure that it conforms to the guidance for holding face-to-face training sessions.
Supports and guidance
In addition to line management support and assistance, there are supports and guidance for staff to help protect your health and the health of your colleagues and family. These resources include
Get the Stay Safe at Work A3 poster here. It can help to remind staff to be vigilant at all times when at work.