We've compiled answers to some of the questions you might have as a public health doctor about the impact of COVID-19 on your contract terms and conditions.
This guidance will be under constant review and added to as the situation evolves.
Am I covered by my usual indemnity?
We have raised concerns with NHS Resolution on behalf of public health consultants who are returning to work (answering the call from the GMC), but who would be working for local authority public health teams or Public Health England.
You have told us you are unsure if clinical negligence cover will be available for you given the definitions in the Coronavirus Act 2020.
NHS Resolution’s answer is that public health consultants returning to work for Public Health England will be covered by government indemnity via NHS Resolution.
Unfortunately, those returning to work for local authorities should check the cover position with the authority in question as section 11 of the Coronavirus Act does not extend to local government.
We have contacted the Local Government Association asking what assurances local authorities can give.
Working from home
We have heard of many examples of virtual teams being established, allowing public health professionals to do their jobs while working from home. This should be the norm and the expectation.
We are concerned to hear of some examples of you being required to come into the office.
While there may be some efficiency and other benefits to being in the office, there would have to be compelling circumstances to justify putting staff under any pressure to work in the office.
No matter how good the social distancing and hygiene arrangements in offices (and in our experience the latter are sometimes lacking), simply coming to work means mixing with other people.
Employers of public health staff should be model employers – demonstrating that people should be sticking to the guidelines.
Pay for additional work by registrars for PHE
The BMA has agreed rates of pay for public health registrars undertaking additional work for PHE (Public Health England) as part of its response to COVID-19.
Essentially the agreement is for time and half except on bank holidays when double time will be paid.
This is for additional work to any existing on-call arrangement a registrar may have with PHE.
An email outlining the deal has been sent to registrars known to the BMA which can be shared further.