Fully-vaccinated NHS staff WON'T have to self-isolate if they are 'pinged' amid fears of pressure on healthcare

FRONTLINE NHS staff in England who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to carry on working if they are "pinged" – and WON'T have to self-isolate, it has been announced.

The move – which also applies to frontline social care workers – comes amid concerns that rising staff absences due to the need to self-isolate is putting unsustainable pressure on health care services.

The Department of Health and Social Care said the exemption would only apply in "exceptional circumstances" where the absence of staff could lead to a "significant risk of harm".

Staff who are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told to quarantine because they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus will still need a negative PCR test before they can resume work and then to take daily lateral flow tests.

Decisions on which staff qualify will be made on a case-by-case basis following a risk assessment by the management of the health or social care organisation concerned.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: "As we learn to live with this virus, it's important that we ensure frontline staff can keep providing the best possible care and support to people up and down the country.

"These new rules will fortify our collective defences against this awful virus, by allowing fully vaccinated frontline NHS and social care staff to continue to work when needed."

UK Health Security Agency chief executive Dr Jenny Harries, said: "With the number of cases continuing to rise, it is imperative that we do everything we can to manage this virus and support our NHS and social care services under the strain of increased demand and sustained pressure.

"We have provided specific guidance to NHS and social care settings for circumstances where there is a significant risk to health or safety resulting from staff absence or a critical service cannot run."

It comes after Boris Johnson came under mounting pressure over the pingdemic.

The PM, isolating on Freedom Day, tried to use VIP testing to dodge ten days at home after contact with Covid-hit Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

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But Boris stuck to the rules after an outcry. MPs want Test and Trace isolations to be axed as staff shortages cripple thousands of businesses.

They warn any delay will worsen the UK-wide staffing crisis caused by the pinging of close contacts of those with Covid.

They came amid reports that tens of thousands are deleting the controversial NHS app that pings close contacts of any positive case.

Hair salons, nurseries, sports facilities and cafes have been left short-staffed. Marks & Spencer said it could be forced to reduce its hours.

Royal Mail sorting offices have also been hit while garden waste collections in some areas have been suspended to allow absent council staff to focus on bins.

And there were warnings of an MoT backlog after garages had to cancel huge numbers of bookings.

Think-tank the Adam Smith Institute said nearly 1.7million could now be isolating. Former PM Tony Blair warned it could soar to ten million by the peak of the third wave, thought to hit in early September.

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