Last reviewed 16 November 2020
NHS England has confirmed that GPs will be among the asymptomatic NHS workers who will be eligible for twice-weekly one-hour Covid-19 swab tests at home.
NHS England said that all patient-facing NHS staff will get access to regular testing, now that the new type of lateral flow antigen test has been scientifically validated.
Staff will be trained to take the tests themselves at home, and will be able to see the results before coming into work. Although the new test is less sensitive this would be mitigated by them being taken twice weekly with all positive tests to be reconfirmed using polymerise chain reaction (PCR) testing.
Last week, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced that a further 600,000 lateral flow tests would be sent out to start the significant expansion of testing of priority and high-risk groups in local communities on a weekly basis, and to be followed by weekly local allocations.
NHS England Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis wrote: "Following further scientific validation of the lateral flow testing modality, and confirmation over the weekend from Test and Trace that they can now supply the NHS with sufficient test kits, we are pleased to confirm that asymptomatic testing will be made available to all patient-facing NHS staff."
The letter added: "With appropriate training staff will be able to test themselves at home twice a week with results available before coming into work."
Stephen Powis confirmed that NHS England would contact NHS settings for delivery details of the Innova lateral flow devices. They are supplied in boxes of 25. He said standard operating procedures (SOPs) will be updated with training materials.
More information about lateral flow tests is available from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/roll-out-of-lateral-flow-tests-to-local-authorities