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COVID-19 Updates

A list of resources and news announcements keeping ACB members, media and the public informed about COVID-19 updates from ACB and other professional bodies.

NHS Staff Council FAQs on sickness absence collateral to Covid-19, 3 September 2020

  • A joint working group of the NHS Staff Council Executive has published a document containing answers to questions that have arisen around COVID-19 sickness management.
  • These questions cover the impact of cancelled or delayed treatment on a staff member's ability to return to work and the interaction with sick pay and sickness triggers, pay for staff who are required to self-isolate pre and post operation, and employer flexibilities around the use of phased returns

ACB responds to launch of new National Institute for Health Protection, 19 August 2020

NHS England & Improvement CEO, Sir Simon Stevens, has written to the NHS at length about the plan and actions for the third phase of the Covid response from 1st August 2020

General Pharmaceutical Council advises community pharmacies regarding direct to the public Coronavirus Ab tests, 4 August 2020

NHS Staff Council - Updated guidance on quarantine and shielding, 31 July 2020

NHS Staff Council - Guidance on annual leave during Covid-19, 21 July 2020
  • During "business as usual" times local negotiating forums would have established arrangements regarding the taking and carry-over of annual leave. Leave and appropriate rest and recuperation is an important component in the health and well-being of all staff. It is acknowledged that the demands of the Covid emergency, restart of delayed NHS services and cancellation of lots of holiday plans have challenged those arrangements.
  • NHS Staff Council has published (21-07-2020) jointly agreed guidance to help local negotiating forums come to appropriate arrangements to support both their services and staff well-being. The guidance can be downloaded at:

Government and PHE have updated their general information about Covid-19, 17 July 2020
  • Guidance has been updated under the headings epidemiology, virology and clinical features.

Provisional results of Imperial College’s REACT-1 population study have been released, 17 July 2020

House of Commons library provides comprehensive and reliable sources of information and links regarding lots of aspects of Covid-19, 7 July 2020

NICE publishes Evidence Review on Vitamin D for COVID-19, 30 June 2020
  • This evidence review sets out the best available evidence on vitamin D for preventing or treating COVID-19, or for the susceptibility to COVID-19 based on vitamin D status. Treating or preventing acute respiratory tract infections more generally was out of scope. This evidence review includes the key messages and an advisory statement on vitamin D for COVID-19.

National Social Partnership Forum (SPF) statement on industrial relations during the pandemic, 30 June 2020
  • At the beginning of the Covid emergency NHS Social Parnership Forum agreed a protocol for (local) partnership working during the discussion / consultation / negotiation of emergency provisions e.g. at local JNC level. That first statement formally expires at the end of June.
  • The SPF partners have now agreed a revised version taking in account issues that remain or have developed over the recent months. These are principles that should continue to underpin local negotiations.

Letter to NHS employers regarding risk assessments for at-risk staff groups, 24 June 2020
  • NHS England & Improvement have issued firm guidance / instructions to all NHS employers about the need to conduct and share their risk assessments for vulnerable staff within a prescribed time scale.

ACB President's statement on Innovation, learning and investment: reflections on four months of COVID-19, 19 June 2020
  • Why the innovation and learning from Public Health and NHS Laboratories during COVID-19 needs to be built on and invested in if we are to be ready for future urgent public health needs.
  • Three areas of innovation and learning that need continued investment and resources: 1) Validating and rolling out new tests, 2) Infrastructure and pathways to rapidly test vast numbers of people, 3) Using test data to shape public health policy and patient care.
  • Three areas for investment in pathology needed to be ready for future urgent public health needs.

ACB COVID-19 Scholarship fund supported by Abbott increased to £50k, 18 June 2020


  • Abbott are supporting this educational grant with an additional £20k, making the total available £50k
  • ACB’s scholarship programme has been enhanced and accelerated to support rapid innovation related to COVID-19.
  • ACB is looking for innovative scientists to develop rapid scientific research projects that improve the care of COVID-19 patients. 
  • Deadline: 12 July 2020


Pathology Alliance NHS webinar series on Covid-19/SARS-CoV-2 testing at scale, 18 June 2020

  • Pathology Alliance is hosting a series of webinars focused on the current challenges faced by the NHS in testing at scale for Covid-19/SARS-CoV-2.
  • These webinars are designed to enable bidirectional, solution-orientated, information sharing between the NHS diagnostics community and the National Covid-19 Testing Cell. 
  • The aim is to use these webinars to build a community of practice across the laboratory network, through and beyond Covid. 
  • Join the next webinar


Disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19, 12 June 2020
  • Public Health England has published a descriptive review of data on disparities in the risk and outcomes from COVID-19.
  • Included within the review on disparities are age, sex, region, deprivation and ethnicity.

Royal College of Pathologists COVID-19 testing: a national strategy, 11 June 2020

  • a vision for a future strategy with which clinical, scientific and policy stakeholders, including patient advocacy groups, can align.
  • Written by the Royal College of Pathologists with contributions from ACB
  • Lab Tests Online-UK, produced by ACB, only tool listed to help principle no. 7 of the strategy: At societal level, the more people who understand about the testing being performed, the more informed their consent will be.

ACB announces £30k COVID-19 Scholarship Programme, 5 June 2020


  • ACB’s scholarship programme has been enhanced and accelerated to support rapid innovation related to COVID-19.
  • ACB is looking for innovative scientists to develop rapid scientific research projects that improve the care of COVID-19 patients. 
  • Deadline: 12 July 2020


NHS Trades Unions and NHS Employers publish revised jointly agreed guidance for conducting risk assessments for staff, particularly vulnerable staff, 5 June 2020


NHS Trade Unions and NHS Employers agreement on overtime payments during the Covid-19 response, 29 May 2020

  • Joint unions negotiations with NHS employers have come to fruition with progress made on the Blueprint for return launched last week.
  • Employers and TUs both agree that implementation of overtime arrangements at this time is warranted and necessary – to reward fairly the additional effort NHS staff have given to the pandemic response.


Pathology Alliance NHS Engagement Webinar, 26 May 2020

  • The Pathology Alliance are inviting members to attend a webinar series around novel solutions to the current challenges faced by the NHS in testing at scale for Covid-19/SARS-CoV-2. This latest webinar is designed to enable bidirectional, solution-orientated, information sharing between the NHS diagnostics community and the National Covid-19 Testing Cell.
  • This webinar will take place at 10-11.30am on Tuesday 26th May 2020. See invitation and agenda for more information.


Joint NHS Trade Unions statement - Blueprint for the NHS return of activity, 18 May 2020

ACB Expert briefing: The role of antibody testing in the control of COVID-19, and how to ensure that direct molecular detection of the virus is part of a quality pathology system, 14 May 2020

  • How antibody tests can be used to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and the limitations of our knowledge
  • Pros and cons of mass testing for the presence of the virus using direct molecular detection (PCR testing)
  • How important it is that testing at scale is effective

Letter from Lord Bethell thanking the NHS and PHE laboratory community, 6 May 2020

AHCS President’s Blog: Covid19 – up close and personal!, 2 May 2020
Personal account of AHCS President Brendan Cooper's experience as a respiratory pathologist during COVID-19.

Leaflet: How do NHS staff get a test for COVID-19?
NHS leaflet outlining how NHS staff get a test for COVID-19. Includes:

  • Who is eligible?
  • What happens after the test?
  • Additional testing opportunities

ACB Expert briefing on the vital role of NHS laboratories in providing quality testing for COVID-19 leading to the best possible patient care, 30 April 2020

  • What NHS laboratories have achieved so far and how they have responded to the increased demand for reliable COVID-19 testing
  • The importance of using test results to help stop the transmission of disease and treat patients
  • Laboratory testing as a way out of lockdown
Pathology Alliance supporting #TestingMethods2020 intiative, 27 April 2020
  • Work is going on around challenges for innovation in testing methods, helping to galvanise and spread innovation related to testing. This has been a rapid crowdsourcing innovation endeavour and has moved at huge pace. See Testing Methods bulletin 2 for more information.
  • There will be a webinar at 2-3.30pm on Wednesday 29th April 2020. See invitation, agenda and joining instructions for more information.
DHSC Guidance on coronavirus testing for essential workers who are self-isolating, 24 April 2020
  • As part of the government’s 5-pillar strategy for coronavirus testing, testing is now taking place for people who have coronavirus-like symptoms to see if they currently have the virus.
  • More information can be found on the Coronavirus (COVID-19): getting tested page of the website.
Tax Arrangements for NHS Staff and those returning to the NHS, 24 April 2020
  • Many NHS staff will be experiencing changes in their employment, including those taking on additional shifts or returning to the NHS, as well as individuals volunteering to support the health service.
  • More information and links to resources can be found as a news item on this website.
IFCC Survey on Impact of COVID-19 on Clinical Laboratories, 15 April 2020
  • IFCC have composed a survey for all national representatives (and clinical laboratories in each country) to understand how individual laboratories manage pre-analytical, analytical and post-analytical processes during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • More information along with the Survey link can be viewed here
COVID-19 Statement from the ACB President: Better science, better testing, better care, 4 April 2020
  • Statement recognising the hard work of ACB members
  • The importance of tests that give consistent, high quality results

ACB Expert briefing on COVID-19 diagnosis, patient assessment and monitoring, 4 April 2020

  • Expert briefing for media and public
  • Fact sheet style Q&A
  • COVID-19 diagnosis and the science behind the pros and cons of different testing methods
  • Using laboratory findings to help asses and monitor patients with COVID-19
Diagnosing and testing for COVID-19: Update from ACB Microbiology Professional Group, 4 April 2020
  • Update from ACB Microbiology Professional Group
  • Three main methods of testing for COVID-19
  • Science behind methods for testing
  • How ready tests are for roll out

COVID-19 - recommendations for laboratory work, 3 April 2020

  • ACB, RCPath, ACP and IBMS, joint guidance on the prioritisation of pathology testing during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Aims and objectives of guidance
  • 20 recommendations
  • Link to full document
FCS: NHS Staff Council statement on COVID-19 and other resources, 24 March 2020
Coronavirus and COVID-19: update from ACB Scientific Committee for ACB Members, 23 March 2020
  • Update from ACB Scientific Committee Save
  • Incubation and Transmission
  • Clinical Presentation
  • Laboratory Findings
  • Developing diagnostic tests for COVID-19 infection caused by SARS-CoV-2
  • Resources
  • References
ACB Office contact details, 23 March 2020
  • How to get in touch with ACB Office staff working remotely
COVID-19 message from ACB President, 17 March 2020
  • Postponing Focus 2020
NHS England Announcement, 6 March 2020
  • Pathology services across the UK to increase their testing capacity for COVID-19 


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