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The NHS would support the removal of PCR testing requirements to get staff back to work if the science allows, a confederation head has said.

Covid testing rules will be relaxed to remove the need of asymptomatic people to take a follow-up PCR test as part of efforts to shorten isolation periods and ease the staffing shortages crippling Britain, The Telegraph understands.

Asked on the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme if he would support the move, Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation whose members are NHS organisations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said: “As long as it’s based on the science – because on the one hand, we do need to try to get staff back to work as soon as possible… on the other hand, if staff come back into the hospital and they’re infectious, that’s completely counterproductive, because that’s going to mean more sickness in the hospital and staff.

“So this can’t be led by kind of politics or blind hope – it’s got to be led by the science. If the science says it’s possible for us to go back to work earlier then of course, NHS leaders will want that to be possible.

The plans have also received backing from figures from Britain’s workforce.

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On Off 8:19AM

Covid testing rules to be relaxed to solve staff shortages

Covid testing rules will be relaxed as part of efforts to shorten isolation periods and ease the staffing shortages crippling Britain, The Telegraph understands.

Fears are growing that staff absences have become as big a problem as Covid itself, with bin collections delayed, trains cancelled and 17 hospitals in Greater Manchester announcing on Tuesday that they would be suspending some non-urgent surgery, with 15 per cent of staff off sick.

Millions of people who test positive on lateral flow devices will be told they do not need to take follow-up PCR tests, which currently delay the official start of isolation for hundreds of thousands.

Health officials have drawn up plans to limit PCR tests to those with Covid symptoms, allowing people who are asymptomatic – around 40 per cent of cases – to return to work more quickly. More than 1.2 million people are isolating after testing positive in the last week, with hundreds of thousands more waiting for tests or results.

8:19AM

Covid testing rules to be relaxed to solve staff shortages

Covid testing rules will be relaxed as part of efforts to shorten isolation periods and ease the staffing shortages crippling Britain, The Telegraph understands.

Fears are growing that staff absences have become as big a problem as Covid itself, with bin collections delayed, trains cancelled and 17 hospitals in Greater Manchester announcing on Tuesday that they would be suspending some non-urgent surgery, with 15 per cent of staff off sick.

Millions of people who test positive on lateral flow devices will be told they do not need to take follow-up PCR tests, which currently delay the official start of isolation for hundreds of thousands.

Health officials have drawn up plans to limit PCR tests to those with Covid symptoms, allowing people who are asymptomatic – around 40 per cent of cases – to return to work more quickly. More than 1.2 million people are isolating after testing positive in the last week, with hundreds of thousands more waiting for tests or results.

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