Asymptomatic testing

COVID-19 health, safety and wellbeing

The approach to asymptomatic staff testing has been updated as described in a letter issued on 9 November by the chief nursing officer, medical director and director of emergency and elective care.

Further to the letter, from 16 November 2020, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) is beginning the wider roll out of regular testing of asymptomatic patient-facing NHS staff including acute, community, ambulance, and mental health trusts. This testing will support the NHS to control infection, reduce staff absenteeism and support COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 clinical pathways. 

The lateral flow testing kits are self-administered and detect the presence of COVID-19 from a nasal swab sample. 

The test should be taken twice weekly and the process takes no longer than five minutes with results returned within 30 minutes.  

Trusts will be notified in advance of the delivery of the kits which should provide one box of 25 kits per patient-facing staff member.

NHSEI published a range of guidance including frequently asked questions and a staff tutorial video to train staff how to successfully complete the test. You can also read further information on the sensitivity of lateral flow testing.

NEW 31 December - Additional staff testing 

Updated guidance published by NHS England and NHS Improvement on 23 December, highlights the need for trusts with a high nosocomial rate to undertake additional targeted testing of all NHS staff, as recommended by your local and regional infection prevention and control/public health team. 

Test to Release 

From 15 December, individuals that enter the UK will be able to be tested privately after five days of arrival. If the results are negative, they can then begin employment. Tests must be done privately and NHS COVID-19 testing must not be used.

 Further questions

Any further questions on asymptomatic staff testing can be referred to: nhsi.stafftesting@nhs.net 

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