Safe return to work solutions

Latest Government advice announced 17 July is to “return to work when it is safe to do so” and demonstrates that we are moving towards a new phase of the roadmap out of Covid-19 lockdown.
As businesses across the country respond, some like factories, leisure facilities and holiday parks will be aiming to rapidly increase capacity while other venues are preparing to open for the first time in nearly 5 months. For every employer, the safety message for employees and customers alike is crucial as we begin to get back to workplaces in a Covid-secure way.

Although most employers have adapted workplaces to be Covid-safe, many employees are still reluctant to return to work, with the knock-on effect of reducing opportunities for teams to work together.

For many workplaces, productivity and customer service will also suffer as a result. Testing can be a way to send a positive and supportive message to your workforce and there are a number of options available which can help employees to return to work more safely.

Lab tests
Lab-based tests (those which use either a PCR swab or antibody testing via a blood draw), offer excellent accuracy and sensitivity, but the time to get the test result is up to 72 hours. Another limitation of lab tests is that they are expensive, typically more than £100 per test, and the result is only good on the day they are conducted so by the time the result is received, an employee could have come into contact with the virus or had to self-isolate. This means regular testing is essential and for a large workforce, could prove cost-prohibitive.
Point-of-care tests
Point-of-care (PoC) tests are done using a controlled pain-free pin-prick to test blood, serum or plasma and typically test for antibodies identifying whether you have or have had Covid-19. For clarity, antibodies are not evidence that an individual is completely immune to Covid-19 in future.

One key advantage of PoC test results is that they are delivered extremely rapidly; within 15 minutes. The accuracy of the test is most compelling if any negative test is repeated regularly, for example, every 7 days, to avoid the risk of a false negative, i.e. the employee having contracted the virus very recently but not yet having produced antibodies. Clearly, both test types must be conducted under clinical supervision to ensure the tests are administered correctly and results are sensitively handled.

Testing solutions through our group company, ICS

We’re working in partnership with our sister companies at Independent Clinical Services to offer two key testing solutions for businesses across the UK and Ireland. We have adopted PoC testing as the safe, effective and economic solution that delivers rapid results. We offer two options for client organisations eager to see their workforce returning to work while keeping colleagues safe and engaged.

1. Our total workforce solution offers a mass PoC testing service, enabling an employer to test all staff on a regular basis (we suggest weekly as a minimum). Supervised on your sites by one or more of our clinical staff, the service is delivered from £25 per individual test (dependent on the number of tests). Where a client operates sensitive processes, for example, food production, this approach is designed to support you in maintaining productivity and service, at an appropriate level of investment.

2. The return to work solution is available as an alternative, where testing the entire workforce would be cost-prohibitive or overly intrusive. Our team will send a stock of 20 PoC tests to your site, from which you can distribute a test to any employee who reports Covid-19 symptoms as a reason not to be in work. Each PoC test would be self-administered under direct supervision by one of our clinical staff via a Zoom call, who will be available within 60 minutes of notification to oversee the test and to provide appropriate advice following the test result. For organisations with teams working around the clock, it is good to know that our team responds 24/7 too.

This solution offers several benefits:

• Enables employers to tackle unwarranted absenteeism in a robust, but fair manner
• Reassures your teams that their wellbeing is being looked after
• Delivers a rapid response when Covid-19 symptoms are identified amongst employees

• Ensures employee concerns about potential virus symptoms are dealt with rapidly and appropriately.

The test can be conducted at the place of work (or at home if distributed) and crucially, delivers a result on the spot, so your employee will know in 15 minutes if they have previously had Covid-19, or if they currently have the virus based on the presence of antibodies. At a cost of £800 per site (based on 20 tests), this is an affordable solution and responds effectively where organisations operate across a network of locations.

Whether an employer adopts our ‘total workforce’ or ‘return to work’ solution, you and your employees will be reassured to know that if a positive Covid-19 test result is evident in a member of staff, we can offer a same day mobilisation of suitably qualified nurses to attend site and offer wider employee testing, along with managing a robust track and trace process. Pricing for this further solution will be based on the scale and complexity of support needed.

As part of Europe’s largest healthcare staffing and services partner, we have a strong track record for delivering results and we offer safe, effective support through our nurse-led service centre and a nationwide network of healthcare professionals.

Find out more
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A summary of the available tests is set out below:

TypeSpeedAccuracySensitivityCost effectiveLimitations
Lab antibody test✔️✔️✔️✔️Some tests only screen for historic infection.
Lab PCR swab test✔️✔️✔️✔️If not overseen by a healthcare professional, up to 40% neg.
PoC test✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️Second test advised 7 days after initial test; live virus may
not be detectable within the first 5 days of contracting.