Coronavirus National Testing Programme

Dear colleagues,

The Coronavirus National Testing Programme has now expanded capacity to test other frontline workers. This applies to frontline workers in England and Northern Ireland only, and includes community pharmacy staff whom are having to self-isolate, due to having coronavirus-like symptoms or because a member of their household has symptoms. Any employees who think they are eligible and need to be tested should speak to their employer.

Please find attached:

Where appropriate, employers should provide their staff with the attached invite template for booking a test. Please note that frontline workers (including those in community pharmacy), can only be tested if they have access to email, a mobile phone and car. The sites operate a drive-through model only, so unfortunately those who travel to the site by walking, taking public transport or a taxi will not be tested. This helpful video shows you what to expect at a drive-through test site.

Once the appointment has been booked, you should receive a confirmation email in due course. When attending the appointment, you can present either your ID card or confirmation email. You should also make sure to take your mobile phone with you, where you can scan your test kit’s barcode from the link sent to you in order to receive your results.

The online registration form enables speedy booking so we can get as many frontline workers tested as soon possible. Please note that this is a temporary facility and it will be replaced by a permanent digital booking system which will allow employees to book themselves a test.  Once the permanent solution is ready, we will share that link with you and update all of our communications to minimise confusion. For now, please review the attached documents, share the invitation with eligible employees or forward the information onto your employees to action themselves. It is important that neither yourself, your employees or employers, publish or share this invite or the link to the registration form beyond employees who require testing. This includes not posting on social media.   

Any employer that has any queries should contact the Department of Health and Social Care on opshub@dhsc.gov.uk

More detailed information on the types of workers who may now be eligible for testing can be found at www.gov.uk/coronavirus-get-tested.


Health Worker Testing – Primary Care

In line with national guidance, NHSE/I are mobilising testing for health and social care staff.

Eligibility for testing is as follows:

  • Self-isolating because NHS worker is symptomatic: In this instance the NHS keyworker is the only eligible person in their household to receive a COVID-19 test. No other members of their household are eligible.
  • Self-isolating because an adult (over 18) in their household is symptomatic, but the key worker is not: In this instance only the adult household member(s) of the NHS keyworker is eligible to come to a test centre to receive a COVID-19 test. It is that household member(s) whose data must be collected and sent to The National Test Centres – with the key workers name noted. The key worker will not receive a test. If more than one household member is symptomatic, but not the NHS worker, then all household members should be tested.
  • Self-isolating because a child (under 18) in their household member is symptomatic, but the key worker is not: we are awaiting further guidance on this
  • Self-isolating for other reasons: If the NHS keyworker is self-isolating for other reasons and is not themselves symptomatic, they are not eligible to be tested

The capacity available for Health Care Worker testing is currently limited but increasing across the South West and will need to be prioritised across each system. The principles for prioritisation of testing for staff are:

  • Staff who need to deliver frontline / hands on care to those patients and users in the current priority cohorts such as those patients who are classified highly vulnerable to serious complications of COVID19, care of those patients with a pneumonia, care of other very vulnerable patients in health care settings and those who are being ‘shielded’ in the community
  • Staff who work in fragile services that are high priority. Fragility may be due to shortage of staff or shortage of specific specialist skills.
  • Staff who work in a role or service that cannot be delivered remotely or through different ways of working, or who could not be moved to support an alternative role to enable backfill into that service