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Coronavirus: Update for workplace reps

Coronavirus: Update for workplace reps

We have had several workplace reps asking questions around what will happen in the event of outpatient appointment closures within the NHS or podiatrists being asked to undertake other duties. There are also concerns with regards to Personal Protection Equipment.

If you are concerned here is our guidance -

These are exceptional times for us all, which could result in departments closing and Heads of Departments requesting that Podiatrists work in other departments for the foreseeable future. Public health clearly takes priority at this time but please bear in mind the following.

We would advise that discussion and planning take place at a local level between employers and health unions, including College reps, as soon as possible. As part of that planning and response, it may be reasonable to move staff from other clinical areas to support work on Coronavirus. However, for your own protection, work should still be within your grade and your professional scope of practice and/or competences.

The NHS Staff Council statement provides further advice on the importance of agreeing any changes with individual staff, taking into account their own health and well-being. If changes are agreed and put in place it is then essential that you receive adequate training, for example on the use of equipment, and are paid appropriately for any shift work. Although the statement has been produced for the NHS, the good practice principles it outlines would be relevant in any similar environment.

However, in these fast moving times, members may be asked directly by managers and we would suggest that members take a pragmatic approach in order to protect the public and themselves. The HCPC has also acknowledged that during this time podiatrists and other AHP registrants may need to work outside their scope due to this.

If you work in the NHS, the NHS liability insurance should cover you for undertaking non-podiatry related activities, such as swabbing, but your College of Podiatry insurance will not cover non-podiatry tasks. We would advise checking with your manager/ Head of service that you are insured to carry out these duties.

We urge you to remind colleagues to wear the correct Personal Protection Equipment if they are dealing with Covid-19 patients as advised by your Trust. Do not put yourself at risk. Follow UK Government Guidance.

NHS stock on such equipment may be running low, we would ask that you liaise with management to ensure that replacement PPE is available for members to carry out their job/role safely.  Currently for normal podiatry treatments usual PPE needs to be worn i.e. FFP3 facemasks for drilling nails and gloves/apron as appropriate. No other special measures are needed unless your Trust advises differently.

Regarding changes in working hours, most contracts have a flexibility clause. Your employer may invoke that part of the contract. Should they do so, they will need to give reasonable notice in line with your contract of employment. If you have caring responsibilities this will also need to be taken into consideration. If a member asks you about this please advise them to email us at employmentsupport@cop.org.uk. The College website will be updated on a regular basis so do visit it regularly.

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