Two Royal Surrey County Hospital junior doctors contract Covid-19 after function where face mask legislation was breached

An investigation has found there were breaches of face mask legislation at a function attended by 22 members of staff from a Surrey hospital after which two attendees tested positive for coronavirus.

The cases were among Royal Surrey County Hospital junior doctors, according to Health Service Journal which first reported the incident, and the offsite event took place on October 2 at a venue in Guildford.

The positive test results prompted Public Health England to class the incident as an outbreak. The infected individuals did not return to work following the positive test results, while track and trace procedures found there was no identifiable risk to patients.

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Dr Mark Evans, Deputy Medical Director, said: “Protecting our patients is our priority and we are committed to ensuring that all of our staff follow government guidance. This incident took place outside of work and has been reported appropriately, and there was no disruption to our services for patients.”

Made aware of the function on October 8, Surrey Police carried out a retrospective investigation to find out whether any Covid-19 legislation was breached.

It established that although “efforts were made to socialise within the rule of 6 “, there were “some breaches of legislation relating to the not wearing of face masks when moving around the within the venue”.

A Surrey Police spokesperson said: “Surrey Police was notified retrospectively and based on the evidence, the proportionate response has been to warn the individuals in relation to their conduct.

“This is a difficult time for all, but there is an expectation that those who work to protect others do not put themselves or others at risk.”

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They added: “We encourage all members of the public to adhere to the guidelines and legislation to help restrict the spread of the virus. The latest Government guidelines and legislation can be found here.

The police also worked with colleagues from the Regulatory Services Team at Guildford Borough Council to establish whether the venue breached any Covid-19 legislation and to offer further advice and guidance on being Covid 19 secure.

The Guardian reports that an email was sent to staff by the trust’s chief executive, Louise Stead, before the individuals returned to work.

It said: “All of the individuals involved are following the government guidance and are in self-isolation. A full track and trace of any patient contact has taken place and there is no evidence of transmission to patients at this time.

“Our services continue to run safely, and patients can use these confidently and attend planned appointments and procedures.

“As chief executive I wanted to write to you personally today to reiterate the serious nature of this and the need to follow government guidelines, including the rule of six people at one gathering, when outside of work. This is a stark and serious example of the need to uphold the correct behaviour at all times.”

Surrey Live – News