Test frontline NHS staff for COVID-19 as a priority.

Test frontline NHS staff for COVID-19 as a priority.

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I have a dilemma. 
I have a cough. 

I’m a junior doctor, currently working in an emergency assessment unit. My cough is minor, and it’s March, so quite common to get a cough... but how do I know it’s not COVID-19? The truth is I don’t. 

So now I have to ask... do I stay off work for 7 days, leaving a shortfall of staff and putting further strain on the already strained NHS, when the likelihood is that I don’t actually have COVID-19?

OR, do I go to work with my minor cough (as I would normally) and risk potentially spreading COVID-19 to all of the sicker patients I see on a daily basis? 

This same dilemma is being faced by ALL NHS workers, including the cleaners (who are the unsung heroes in all of this!) Currently, tests are only being done on patients who require hospital admission. This virus will cause minor symptoms for most people, and relatively young and healthy staff are most likely to fall into that category. The issue is the patients we treat are not healthy, they are frail and vulnerable. Ask yourself this- if your loved one needs hospital care for a condition not related to Covid-19, would you want them to be treated by staff who are likely infected with it? If not, please help us out here. 

We WANT to stay in work. We are YOUR National Health Service. We are proud to serve but we need some common sense here...

I am petitioning for prioritisation of testing for NHS staff... so that those who need to stay away do so, with a clear conscience, and those who can work can do so, with a clear conscience.