Lateral flow antigen testing is being rolled out to asymptomatic patient-facing staff delivering NHS services in community pharmacies and the other three primary care contractor groups (medical, dental and optometry) in England.
Lateral flow antigen testing, in conjunction with PCR testing, should reduce further transmission and enhance the resilience of NHS services by improving virus detection, says NHSE&I in its latest primary care bulletin (Tuesday December 15).
Patient-facing staff will be asked to test twice-weekly using self-administered nasal swabbing and report their results through an online platform. Any positive lateral flow antigen tests will need to be followed up by a confirmatory PCR test.
A letter will be sent to all primary care contractors later this week with further information on how to order and receive deliveries of lateral flow antigen testing kits for staff. Dedicated SOPs and FAQs for primary care will also be published this week.
Pharmacy contractors should also this week receive an invitation to order lateral flow testing devices directly from Primary Care Services England (PCSE), who will be managing the ordering and delivery process. Pharmacies should log on and complete their order as quickly as possible. The final closing date for orders across all contractors will be December 30, says NHSE&I.
Sites providing Covid-19 vaccinations will be provided with separate deliveries of lateral flow testing devices for vaccinator staff. No separate ordering is necessary for those staff, although the vaccination site should order for other patient-facing staff if required.
The NHS said in mid-November that asymptomatic Covid-19 testing would be made available to all patient-facing NHS staff.