We are strongly encouraging all BIOS members in patient-facing roles who are offered a COVID-19 vaccine to take it if they can. Large-scale immunisation is a vital step in the effort to control the COVID-19 pandemic and save lives.
If you’re a frontline worker, you are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 at work. Orthoptists, orthoptic support workers and technicians, and orthoptic students working directly with patients are at much higher risk of repeated exposure to the infection. The government’s official COVID-19 guidance, known as the COVID-19 green book, makes clear that anyone working in a frontline health or care role, regardless of who for or in what capacity, is eligible for a vaccine:
“Staff involved in direct patient care […] should also include those working in independent, voluntary and non-standard healthcare settings such as hospices, and community-based mental health or addiction services. Temporary staff, including those working in the COVID-19 vaccination programme, students, trainees and volunteers who are working with patients must also be included.”
Recent Government advice makes it clear that hospital vaccination hubs are expected to be the default provider of vaccines to all health and care staff, including private and the third sector. Government guidance is being developed to clarify how private practitioners can access the vaccine and demonstrate their eligibility.
Catching COVID-19 can be serious and may lead to long term complications. These are more common in older staff or those with underlying clinical risk factors.
Protect those around you. You can have COVID-19 without any symptoms and pass it on to family, friends, colleagues and patients, many of whom may be at increased risk from coronavirus. Being healthy doesn’t reduce your risk of catching COVID-19 or passing it on.
The role of vaccinator can be undertaken by anyone who can work legally under a Patient Group Direction (PGD), which includes orthoptists.
While this is outside the scope of an orthoptist, and therefore not covered by BIOS insurance, any orthoptist undertaking this procedure would be covered by their Trust or Board indemnity and support from the HCPC, so long as the correct PGD was in place and they are trained and given sufficient resources to do this task safely. The HCPC have released statements to say they understand practitioners may be taken out of scope of practice to support the pandemic.
The HCPC has published advice for registrants on how they can support the COVID-19 vaccination programme over the four countries of the UK. Read Vaccinations: what you need to know.
Other resources on vaccination programme
The DHSC have compiled a top lines and QA on the COVID vaccine, available here [From Dec 4]
You can find resources from PHE here.
These are helpful links to get the latest updates and advice from other organisations.
- Government guidance for health professionals
- Royal College of Ophthalmologists Updates and Resources
- Royal College of Optometrists Advice
Winter / Second Wave Planning
- England: Third phase of NHS response to COVID-19
- Northern Ireland: COVID-19 – Surge Planning Strategic Framework
- Scotland: Winter preparedness plan: 2020 to 2021
- Wales: Winter protection plan for health and social care 2020 to 2021
- ROI: HSE Winter Plan 20/21
Information on the temporary pause in screening:
England and Wales launched the COVID-19 App on Thursday 24 September, which includes a ‘Venue Check-In’ feature that will be used in some healthcare settings. There is advice below on their use in healthcare settings, as well as general information in the documents below:
- Advice for healthcare organisations
- Introduction to App and App Features Poster
- How to create a QR poster
The Social Partnership Forum have also produced an information leaflet for people working in healthcare.
Leadership Support Circles
A series of short, themed online sessions based on 10 behaviours for leading compassionately during COVID-19.
For more information and to book click here.
Slides from the webinar provide a number of tools to help focus orthoptic teams through new ways of working, measuring impact and providing very high quality services.