Coronavirus

We’ll be adding more information and guidance to this hub whenever we can, so please check back regularly.

Last updated: 16 June 2021

In spite of the easing of national restrictions, the advice from the UK government is still to work from home wherever possible. The virus is highly contagious, leading to fatalities in some cases. Therefore, therapists should continue to refer to our risk assessment tools and guidance. The restrictions have important implications for psychotherapists and psychotherapeutic counsellors seeking to work in-person. Please keep checking this page as well as the links provided.

Regional restrictions

There are currently different terms of restriction across the four nations. For ongoing regionally specific information, please check the restrictions in your area and, where relevant, that of your clients, your place of work or educational establishment.

Official guidance on the restrictions applicable can be found on government websites:

In-person work

Across the UK’s four nations, official government guidance continues to state that people who can work from home should do so.

However, under existing guidance, there may be scope across the four nations for therapists who feel they need to work in-person to do so – provided their workplace is COVID-secure.

  • In Northern Ireland, households can mix indoors with the services of trades or professions (close contact services are not allowed) and for providing care or assistance, including social services, to a vulnerable person. 
  • In Wales, people who are not able to work from home and are able to work safely in their workplaces, can do so, provided their workplace remains open. Under level 2 guidance, close contact services and personal services are permitted to open including therapy practices such as complementary alternative medicine, sport and remedial treatment and preventative and complementary (holistic) healthcare.
  • In England, under lockdown measures, travel is still permitted for the purpose of medical appointments. Medical or health services, including services relating to mental health can remain open if following COVID-19 Secure guidelines and ‘support groups can take place with up to 30 participants where officially organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support.' These must be organised by a business, charity or public body and must not take place in a private home or garden.
  • In Scotland, under the lockdown measures that apply to mainland Scotland, support services including peer support groups, therapy groups, one to one therapy and counselling, can operate face to face, where they are essential for people’s wellbeing and remote delivery is not possible. The Scottish government has provided additional guidance for one-to-one and group support.

Assessing the risks

For therapists working independently, there may be instances where they feel they cannot work effectively remotely. In this situation, therapists should give careful consideration to the consequences of in-person work – including whether they or their clients are at higher risk from COVID-19. It is essential that any therapists who decide to work in-person ensure their working premises are COVID-secure, both for them and their client(s).

Therapists must apply their professional judgement and refer to their insurers and, where applicable, their employers.

Employed therapists should follow their employer’s guidance around working practice. Any member who feels they have been asked to deliver therapy in unsafe conditions should contact our policy team by emailing policyukcp@ukcp.org.uk.

   

COVID-secure environments

There is a legal obligation to create a COVID-secure professional environment. Any practitioner (therapist, supervisor, trainer/educator) who isn’t able to work in a fully COVID secure environment should work remotely or face potential legal penalties. If you are unclear as to whether your premises meet government requirements, please read more.

The latest UK government advice is to work from home wherever possible.

We strongly advise all practitioners to check with your insurance provider.

Employers and employees

If you are an employee of a service, please check your employer’s policies. If you are concerned about working safely during the pandemic, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has produced a resource for employers and employees outlining your rights and responsibilities.

If you believe that you are under pressure to return to in-person work unsafely, please contact our Policy and Advocacy Team via policyukcp@ukcp.org.uk.

Vaccination

Current information suggests that appointments are still available for self-referral for eligible frontline social care or health care workers in England – those who have direct contact with patients, clients or service users at higher risk from COVID-19. Members will need to consider whether the opportunity to self-refer is appropriate based on professional circumstances and need.

You can read the original NHS letter sent to vaccination centres and find out more about your eligibility here.

At the time of booking, you will need to self-declare that you are a health and social care worker.

This is an NHS England initiative. We continue to seek clarity on the availability of vaccinations across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

We also continue to request that the Department of Health and Social Care issues clearer guidance on the eligibility criteria for health and social care workers. We have heard accounts of variation in the interpretation of existing guidance between different local authority areas.

We are sorry that we are unable to help in securing individual appointments.

Please ensure that we have your up-to-date email address and that your postcode is in the correct format so that we can let you know if we are made aware of vaccination availability in your area. You can update your details by logging in to the members area.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are the independent experts who advise Government on which vaccine/s the United Kingdom should use and provide advice on prioritisation at a population level. The JCVI have advised that the first priorities for any COVID-19 vaccination programme should be the prevention of COVID-19 mortality and the protection of health and social care staff and systems.

Advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on the groups that should be prioritised for vaccination can be found on the gov.uk website.

In line with the recommendations from the JCVI, the vaccine will be initially rolled out to priority groups, including frontline health and social care workers.

Included within this, are staff involved in direct patient care. This group includes staff who have frequent face-to-face clinical contact with patients and who are directly involved in patient care in either secondary or primary care/community settings. This includes doctors, dentists, midwives and nurses, paramedics and ambulance drivers, pharmacists, optometrists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and radiographers. It should also include those working in independent, voluntary and non-standard healthcare settings such as hospices, and community-based mental health or addiction services. Temporary staff, including those working in the COVID-19 vaccination programme, students, trainees and volunteers who are working with patients must also be included.

Each of the UK nations has its own programme of delivery:

Other sources of information

We are advising people who are looking for information about the virus to visit the NHS website, where you will find the most up-to-date information, including what to do if you are worried you might have symptoms, advice for travellers and common questions.

The GOV.UK website also has up-to-date information about the situation in the UK, and you may find further relevant information at GOV.Wales, GOV.Scot, and NorthernIreland.gov.uk.

You can find more information and resources here:

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