Introduction to COVID- 19

The World Health Organisation has now declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a pandemic.

A COVID-19 pandemic in the UK will be a major challenge to the operation of NHS Lothian services. This guidance is designed to provide a framework for local decisions on employment issues in that event and has been developed in conjunction with Partnership Representatives.

It will be continually reviewed as further guidance and details emerge.

It aims to address some key issues and answer some common questions, whilst recognising the unpredictable nature of the challenge. NHS Lothian does have experience of successfully dealing with a range of emergencies that will assist in the response to COVID-19. This is however likely to be more sustained and widespread than the other types of emergency. For example, the duration of the demand, the levels of absence and pressure on staff may be unprecedented.

In general NHS Lothian should seek to operate within its existing employment principles during a pandemic, though with modifications suggested below. In particular NHS Lothian will need to draw on a range of staff to offset the impact of absence, ask staff to work flexibly and support staff during a pandemic.

This will be a very testing time for NHS Lothian staff and managers and it is vital that everyone works together to ensure that key services continue to operate and that the appropriate support and communication networks are in place.