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Covid-19 testing for travel – all you need to know

By Coronavirus

Travelling to England?

Are you are travelling abroad for work? You can now shorten your quarantine time on arrival back to England.

Currently (March 2021), there are no Travel Corridors. This means that anyone returning to England from any destination outside of the Common Travel Area (Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man) must do the following:

  • Quarantine for 10 days
  • Take a Government Coronavirus (Covid-19) test on Day 2 and Day 8 of quarantining
  • Follow Lockdown rules

How to quarantine when you arrive in England – GOV.UK (

Destinations: If traveling from a Red List Travel Ban country, you must quarantine in a Quarantine Hotel. You must take a government test on Day 2 and Day 8 of quarantining. These tests must be purchased as part of the Travel Test Package. You are not allowed to enter the Test to Release Scheme if traveling from a Red List Travel Ban Country.

Booking and staying in a quarantine hotel when you arrive in England – GOV.UK (

Destinations: If traveling from any country not on the Red List Travel Ban list, you must quarantine at home. You must take a government test on Day 2 and Day 8 of quarantining. These tests must be purchased as part of the Travel Test Package. However, you are allowed to enter the Test to Release Scheme.

The Test to Release scheme allows you to be released from quarantine after a full 5 days of quarantine, only if you have been tested negative to Coronavirus (Covid-19). The government day 8 test will still need to be completed.

Acorn can provide the Test to Release service for you.

NOTE: Test to release does not replace the mandatory government Covid19 Travel Testing Package. For information on this, please see HERE

PCR Testing before travel (commonly known as Fit to Fly)

Acorn are a government approved private provider of Covid-19 PCR testing. We have been through an extensive process to ensure that we meet all of the UK government standards to provide Covid-19 testing to industry and the general public.

We work with an accredited laboratory that are registered and government approved.

You can come to our clinic in Congleton for your Covid-19 PCR swab test where we will book you in with our fully trained professionals. Once the swab is completed, you will receive your result within 24 – 48 hours. The laboratory do offer an option for the same result with an extra fee.

Please contact us for more information and pricing of Covid-19 Swab Tests before you travel on 01260 277797.

Be prepared before you travel

Are you dreaming about that summer get away abroad? When lockdowns are lifted, you may be allowed to enter the Test to Release Scheme in order to shorten your quarantine time on arrival back to England.

Hopefully, travel corridors will open up again, where no test is required upon arrival to England. These are likely to be reviewed in the coming months as restrictions are lifted come summer 2021.

Currently (March 2021), traveling abroad for holidays is not permitted due to National Lockdown.

If you eventually leave England and travel to Red List Travel Ban country, upon arrival back to England you will need to quarantine in a Quarantine Hotel. You will need to take a government test on Day 2 and Day 8 of quarantining. These tests must be purchased as part of the Government Travel Test Package. You are not allowed to enter the Test to Release Scheme.

You can find out more information about the governments Travel Testing Package here.

If you take a trip abroad, be that personal or for work related purposes, which is not listed on a Travel Corridor list or on the Red List Travel Ban list, you must quarantine at home. You must take a government test on Day 2 and Day 8 of quarantining. These tests must be purchased as part of the Travel Testing Package. However, you are allowed to enter the Test to Release Scheme.

The Test to Release Scheme means that you can get tested to release you from quarantine early. It allows you to be released from quarantine after a full 5 days of quarantine, if you have been tested negative to Covid-19.

Acorn can provide the Test to Release service for you. Please get in touch to book yours.

The self-isolation period will only be shortened if your test result is negative.

NOTE: Test to release does not replace the mandatory government Covid-19 Travel Testing Package. For information on this, please see HERE

RED LIST (TRAVEL BAN AREA) – Isolate for 10 days in Government approved hotel and take the Government Day 2 and Day 8 Covid-19 tests

NO Travel Corridor – Isolate for 10 days at home. Government Covid-19 test on Day 2 and Day 8. Private test to release from Acorn on full Day 5

Travel Corridor – No isolation required

Staying Covid-19 compliant without losing your core

Staying Covid-19 compliant without losing your core

By Coronavirus, News

Staying safe during the Covid-19 pandemic is of upmost importance, for individuals and businesses alike. Most business have been in and out of various Tier systems and lockdowns for 12 months across the UK, it is important to continue safe practice in the workplace, ensure that you as a business are staying compliant with the law and HSE guidance and are staying true to yourself as a business.

Occupational health teams are here to help keep employees safe and assist companies as they introduce and develop new measures, regulations and guidance for employees at work, and let’s face it, health at work has never been so important  

The unknown

Since the beginning of the pandemic there has been a lot of uncertainty and unknowns. The sheer severity of the virus, how quick it would spread and the effect it would have on everyone’s daily lives.  This impact has also come at a cost to our economy, with full lockdown meaning that factories, offices and self-employed people simply could not operate their business.

So now more than ever it is important to make sure that your business is working safely and correctly to the guidance that been put in place. If you are currently closed, use this time to be creative and efficient for the future.

As a business ourselves, Acorn have changed the way we work completely. We had nurses and technicians traveling all over the country, five days a week, seeing hundreds of different people every day. These people still require their health checks to keep them safe at work; this doesn’t just stop. So in order to comply, we have changed our entire structure and have implemented a whole new online system to allow us to electronically screen individuals for their health surveillance. We have ramped up our management referral process to emphasize the support our mental health specialists can provide and also have a triage system for those returning to the workplace after illness or time off.

Acorn are ensuring that we keep all of our staff, nurses and technicians safe and healthy so that we can focus on keeping your workforce strong. In order to protect everyone, we are introducing face to face medicals for essential screenings only and at a slow pace. As the lockdown is lifted and eased over the uk, companies are at risk of rushing back into their normal practice and missing vital steps to ensure the safety of their employees.

Ultimately this is all about adaption and compliance. How can your business adapt their ways of working in order to comply with the new guidelines? This is new for us all, but having gone through it ourselves, we can help.

Top 5 tips to returning to work safely


  • Firstly, do not go to work if you are ill. Temperatures, coughs, loss of taste/smell and sickness can all be signs of Coronavirus, so ensure that you are aware of your own health and stay home if you’re ill.
  • Keep an open mind. Coronavirus is worrying for us all but having an open mind around the new procedures in the workplace, be that hand washing stations, new uniforms or split breaks – these are only put in place to keep you and your colleagues safe.
  • Stick to the government rules outside of work. We know its tempting to see friends and family, its tough on us all, but the virus is still here and very capable of spreading and affecting those that are ‘fit and healthy’ as well as the vulnerable. Look after yourself and those close to you.
  • Keep talking – ask questions at work, speak to managers if you have concerns and keep an eye on those vulnerable friends that look like they are struggling. People have their own ways of dealing with change and stressful situations and sometimes all it takes is a conversation to really help someone.
  • Enjoy your job! Most people work at a certain company or have a specific occupation as they enjoy it. Don’t let these changes effect how you feel about work and how you do your job. The heart of a business is their workforce and that needs to be beating strong to get through this pandemic successfully.


  • Ensure new guidelines in the workplace are clear and simple. Try not to over complicate things and make sure that emails, posters, training and signage is precise, clear and understandable for everyone. 
  • Organisation of the new policies and procedures that you have enforced are crucial. Guidelines from the HSE are ever developing so keeping them up to date is important.
  • Stay compliant. The HSE have released many new guidelines around Covid-19 and occupational health care. Health surveillance absolutely should not be brushed aside for 6 months and ‘forgotten about until next year’. If your company is working again, your employees health could be at risk. It has never been more important to utilise your occupational health services and see how they can help.
  • Provide extra support to employees. We have seen a huge increase of referrals specifically related to anxiety and stress around Covid-19. It’s important to offer appropriate support to those who may need it most. Speak to your occupational health providers and see what specialists they have on board that can be of assistance.
  • Don’t lose your core values. In times like these it is very easy to lose who you are as a business. Over focusing on the risk assessments and forgetting about the wellbeing of your most crucial cog in the machine. If you had coffee meets on a Friday with the team, fire them back up. Start up some creative team-building sessions like an online quiz.

Acorn Occupational Health are following all guidelines from the government, Public health England and HSE, helping you stay safe and compliant, it’s your job to keep your keep your businesses core values alive.

For more information on the services Acorn are currently offering to stay Covid-19 compliant, please get in touch.

Coronavirus – Don’t isolate your mental health

Coronavirus – Don’t isolate your mental health

By Coronavirus, Mental Health, News

Over the past few weeks it is safe to say that the majority of us have had to adapt to a new ‘norm’. Whether you work in production, administration, healthcare, or public services, everyone is having to adjust their way of working due to the Coronavirus, including occupational health providers.

We have received many requests from employers, regarding their employee’s mental health and fitness to work. Employers are asking what they should be doing to protect their workforce and ensure that their business survives these uncertain times, as well as offering advice to their employees of what they can do to take care of themselves at home…

Look after yourself

If you are working from home, self-isolating or furloughed, you still need to make sure that your time and workspace are manageable and comfortable. This doesn’t just stop at the comfort of your chair; it also relates to your personal wellbeing and mental health. Taking time for yourself during this pandemic is incredibly important and can help to protect your mental wellbeing.

Working from home

Although it can be tempting to sit in your comfy clothes with your laptop on your knee, it is necessary to keep some sort of routine. Where possible, try to have a dedicated ‘work area’. Set an alarm, shower, get dressed and be ready for your day as normal. It’s amazing what a difference getting dressed for work makes, even if you’re working in your spare room.

No work commutes mean that there may be time for some mediation or relaxing stretches in the morning. Check out a quick 10 minute yoga video if you can – A fantastic combination of physical and mental exercise. You have the luxury of being able to take your coffee break in the garden and indulge in that book you have never quite had time to read.

Working from home can be challenging enough trying to set boundaries and create a new norm, but being at home 24/7 can also cause severe social isolation which can be detrimental to many people, whether they have any underlying mental health issues or not. That is why it is so important to stay connected to friends, family and work colleagues as much as you can.

There are lots of positive things that can come from this pandemic and it can really make us appreciate the smaller things that life offers, but to do this, we need to be healthy both physically and mentally.

What can employers do to help?

As an employer, you have a duty of care to your workforce, but it can be difficult to control if you have employee’s working from home, furloughed and high risk / potentially infected team members. Everyone is dealing with their own levels of stress and worry, as well as businesses trying to stay afloat and keep the paddles turning.

However, there are a few easy ways in which you can support your business and employees right now:

Stay in touch – Staying in contact via a group email is enough, but why not call your employees and check in with them? Isolation can be tough on everyone, particularly if you have a mental health impairment. Just a simple phone call can be enough to lift spirits, and make your employees know you care about their wellbeing.

Signpost to an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) – If you have an EAP in place, ensure that everyone knows the benefits of this system and encourage the full use of it. This could be a crucial lifeline to those in isolation.

Lean on occupational health resources – Acorn are offering a variety of services to help vulnerable employees through this testing time.

– Mental Health Support – Telephone consultations with a nurse or mental health first aider for employees that may be struggling with their mental health and require professional advice.

– COVID-19 Triage Calls – We are assisting HR to manage vulnerable and high-risk employees, providing guidance relating to social distancing, shielding and protection of others.

– Management Referrals – A 60-minute telephone assessment with a nurse to assist both employees and employers with a return to work following absence.

– Electronic Paper Screening via Orchid – Acorn are delivering all of their health surveillance via quick and easy electronic screening to guarantee that social distancing measures are met, but to also ensure employers are continually meeting their legal requirements with regards to health surveillance and not falling behind. This does not involve any movement of paper, just a quick click to send an email questionnaire to an employee.

Support from work

We have never seen our country in a ‘lockdown’ position and everyone is learning to adapt, including employers from all types of businesses.

Although there are uncertain times ahead for many industries, it is worth spending time and thinking about what is important to your company? How will you kick start again after this pandemic? Well, your employees are going to be a huge part of this, which is why they need to be supported, more so now than ever.

Guiding your workers, staying in contact and keeping them informed on changes is incredibly important. Particularly if you know someone is vulnerable or has had previous mental ill-health.

When this is all over, you want your staff to return to the workplace feeling positive and excited for the tasks ahead.

Employers have a duty of care to their employees and there is plenty that you can do to support vulnerable workers whilst away from the workplace. If you need more information regarding the services that Acorn offer, call us on 01260 277797.

Stay safe.

World Health Day – We Salute All Of Our Nurses

By Awareness, Coronavirus, Guidance, News

World Health Day is recognised on the 7th April to promote awareness on various health related topics from around the world. This day marks the anniversary of the World Health Organisation which was founded on the 7th April 1948.

World Health Day 2020 highlights the current status of nursing around the world – which at the moment has never been more crucial, therefore we should continuously support our nurses over the globe.

This year we are celebrating the incredible work of our nurses and midwifes, which couldn’t be more appropriate during the COVID-19 pandemic. This day is designed to celebrate the work of our nurses and health care workers to remind the whole world of the crucial role in which nurses from all sectors play to keep the world healthy, even more so than ever during this crisis.

Nurses and health workers are all at the forefront of the COVID-19 response and continuously providing high quality care when its needed the most.

These professions are the backbone of any health care team, whether nurses work in emergency services, child health, A&E, mental health, occupational health, NICU, schools, public health and elderly care (to name just a few) – we salute you all.

To honour #WorldHealthDay we have asked some of Acorns wonderful nurses to look at what guided them down their nursing path, previous experiences and what they love the most about being a nurse.

Isabel Burrows – Clinical Lead of Acorn Occupational Health

“When I was 4 years old my dad broke his leg in a road traffic accident and was in hospital for 6 months. During this time we used to visit him once a week. I became fascinated by the nurses. I loved how smart they looked and the discipline they demonstrated. I went over to one of the nurses and asked if I could put my name down on the waiting list so that I could become a nurse when I was old enough. She wrote my name down on the list. I truly believed I was on the list until I was a teenager.

“I was never in any doubt of what I wanted to do. I applied for a student nurse post at the same hospital (North Staffs Royal Infirmary) where my dad was nursed when I was 18 years old. I started work as a student nurse in September 1984. I qualified in December 1987. Our nursing set all passed the course together. We still keep in touch and meet up about 4 times a year.

“I have never regretted becoming a nurse. I have loved every job that I have had. I enjoy caring for people and the versatility of the work.

“My Dad who is sadly no longer with me told me ‘if you become a nurse, you will never be without a job’ and he was so right. My parents used to call me Matron with affection.

“I love working in Occupational Health because it concentrates on prevention rather than waiting for people to become ill.”

Isabel Burrows

Arlene Moss – Senior Occupational Health Advisor

“I trained in nursing from 1973 – 1976. I worked in A&E rising to a Sister over 18 years and I loved it. It always made you feel like you were making a difference and helping so many people.”

“Following having my 3 sons, now 28, 26 and 23, I trained and moved into Occupational Health. I then worked for 19 years as an Occupational Health Advisor and Manager for and FTSE 100 company and worked with a fantastic, forward thinking manager.

“After leaving there, I worked for a year at the Transport Police before joining the team at Acorn as a Senior Occupational Health Advisor, which I love. No day is the same and every case is so different. Spending so much time at work, you really do have to enjoy what you do.”

Arlene Moss

Sharon Proudlove – Occupational Health Screening Nurse

“From a young age, I was always surrounded by ‘medical’ stuff – my dad had spent the latter part of his army career working in the medical corps and then went onto become a First Aider for the Gas Board, taking part in numerous First Aid competitions up and down the UK. He became the go to person for anyone in the neighbourhood long before 111 came about!”

“I was torn between wanting to train as a nurse or to work with people with disabilities  so my careers teacher suggested I train as a nurse for people with Learning Disabilities, I didn’t even know there was such a qualification! So that’s what I did. From 1982 to 1995 I worked in a large hospital for people with very profound learning and physical disabilities and challenging behaviours with complex mental health issues too. I rose through the ranks becoming a Ward Sister and then a Night Shift Coordinator.

“But I still hankered to be an RGN – so in 2004 I retrained and gained my RGN qualification. I love doing all things clinical and medical, give me a mucky wound or an abscess to dress and I’m in my element.

“I’ve worked in various specialities within the hospital setting and am proud of my profession and my only regret is not having got into Occupational Health Nursing 15 years ago.

“I love being a nurse. When someone says if you had your time all over again what would you be? Well, I’d still be a nurse!”

Sharon Proudlove

Claire McMullan – Occupational Health Screening Nurse

“My dreams of becoming a nurse started when I was a little girl maybe at the age of 6 – seeing my auntie being a nurse in her dress, belt and cap. She was my first inspiration.

“I started my career in nursing as a Health Care Assistant in the NHS many years ago. I always enjoyed providing the best care I could to my patients and knowing they were comfortable and listening to everyone’s life stories and experiences.

“I eventually moved into Occupational Health as a Technician which I really enjoyed. I quickly outgrew this role, so I decided to go and do my access course into nursing and then went onto my nursing Degree. During this time I unfortunately lost a close friend who passed away suddenly. She always knew I wanted to be a nurse, where she always kept on my case trying to push me to do it. With her passing I decided to pursue my dream for her and myself.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a student nurse over 3 years, I met a lot of knowledgeable, smart and caring professionals along the way which moulded me into the nurse I am today.

“I’m now back in Occupational Health and provide support to employers and employees, and monitor the health of the workforce. Again, I meet a lot of people on a daily basis and I know I make a difference to them. I’m there to support individuals, speak for them when they feel unable to and offer guidance that can be implemented into the workplace.  I still have a lot to learn in this area of nursing, but I know I will shine and continue to do the best I can. I work in a great team of other Nurses, Technicians and of course our Admin Team of whom all support me daily.

“All nurses will be committed, provide care, show compassion, have courage, communicate to others where required and are competent in what we do.”

“I know I contain all these qualities and I will always be the best nurse I can be … I am proud to be a nurse.”

Claire McMullan

To all of the nurses and health care professionals out there that are working hard, not just today, but everyday – we salute you!

Coronavirus Antibody Tests

By Coronavirus, Guidance, News

Acorn now have the opportunity to provide an instant, rapid antibody test for Coronavirus (Covid-19). Please find questions and answers regarding the test detailed below

This testing regarding coronavirus follows requests for this service from many of our customers.

Testing Times:

  • 5 minutes to take the blood sample
  • 15 minutes to read
  • 5 minutes to explain the result to the individual and write a certificate/report

Need to know:

  • The kits are ordered on demand and delivery takes 1-2 weeks.
  • Once the kits have been ordered, they cannot be cancelled.

For more information regarding the antibody test kits please get in touch with Acorn. You can call us on 01260 277797 or email:

Questions and Answers:

How is the test performed?

This is a blood test taken from a finger prick. A nurse or technician will attend to employees who are not displaying obvious symptoms (cough and high temperature). The nurse or technician will be wearing appropriate PPE.

What does this test tell you?

The test will provide information on antibodies for Covid-19. This will give the employee information as to whether they have developed any antibodies. The test provides results for both the IgM and IgG antibodies.

What do the antibodies tell you?

  • If no IgM or IgG antibodies are detected it means that the individual has not been in contact with the virus but may be at risk if they do come into contact with Covid-19 or if they have mild symptoms they may be in the “window” with early stages of infection.
  • IgM antibodies detected in an initial blood sample mean that it is likely that the person became infected with Covid-19 virus within recent weeks or they are in the early stages of infection and should self-isolate.
  • IgG and IgM antibodies detected in an initial blood sample mean that the individual is in the active phase of infection but the human body is developing some immunity to Covid-19.
  • IgG antibodies are detected but the IgM is negative, then it is likely that the person had an infection sometime in the past and they are clear of infection meaning that they have gained antibodies and are safe to work.

Does the test need to be sent to a laboratory?

No, the test provides an instant result within 15 minutes. However, like all screening tests further laboratory testing may be required based on both current and future guidelines issued by Public Health England.

What happens if the test is positive?

We will provide advice according to the result

Is the test validated?

The test is validated and CE marked for professional use only. Public Health England have not validated the test yet and when/if they do it is possible that all the test kits will be redirected to the NHS.

What is the accuracy of the test?

This test is 99.2% accurate

If you would like any more information regarding the coronavirus antibody test, give us a call on 01260 277797.