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COVID-19 tests to remain free for nurses and other NHS staff

Lateral flow testing will continue to be free for staff in high-risk settings after universal free testing ends on Friday, DHSC confirms
Picture shows COVID-19 testing kits

Lateral flow testing will continue to be free for staff in high-risk settings after universal free testing ends on Friday, DHSC confirms

Nurses and other NHS staff will continue to have access to free COVID-19 tests when free universal testing ends on Friday.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed that lateral flow testing will continue in some high-risk settings where prevalence of coronavirus is high, including hospitals, hospices and adult social care settings.

The tests will remain in place for asymptomatic NHS staff, meaning they do not have to be displaying symptoms to access a test. Free symptomatic testing will also remain in place for patients in hospital, those in high-risk or vulnerable groups, and people living or working in high-risk

Lateral flow testing will continue to be free for staff in high-risk settings after universal free testing ends on Friday, DHSC confirms

Picture shows COVID-19 testing kits
Picture: iStock

Nurses and other NHS staff will continue to have access to free COVID-19 tests when free universal testing ends on Friday.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed that lateral flow testing will continue in some high-risk settings where prevalence of coronavirus is high, including hospitals, hospices and adult social care settings.

The tests will remain in place for asymptomatic NHS staff, meaning they do not have to be displaying symptoms to access a test. Free symptomatic testing will also remain in place for patients in hospital, those in high-risk or vulnerable groups, and people living or working in high-risk settings including NHS workers and care home staff.

Government is focusing testing on those at higher risk of the virus

UK Health Security Agency chief executive Jenny Harries said the government is focusing testing provisions on those at higher risk of the virus. Dr Harries said: ‘The pandemic is not over, and how the virus will develop over time remains uncertain. Covid still poses a real risk to many of us, particularly with case rates and hospitalisations on the rise.’

Free testing for the public ends on 1 April as part of the government’s ‘living with COVID’ plan. As of Friday, people with COVID-19 will be asked to try to stay at home to avoid spreading the virus, the DHSC said in a statement.

RCN wants assurances from employers on sick pay related to COVID-19

RCN director for England Patricia Marquis welcomed the move but called for employers to provide assurances that sick pay related to COVID-19 will remain in place.

‘Nursing staff require access to free testing because many work in close proximity with clinically vulnerable people and we need to prevent hospitals and other care settings from becoming a place where COVID-19 spreads easily,’ she said.

‘Tight NHS and care budgets should not be asked to cover these costs – the government must continue to show its support for healthcare workers.’

Nurses had widely criticised the potential end to free testing for NHS staff, which could have left them paying £50 a month for tests. The message they had for the government was clear – if tests weren’t free they weren’t doing them.


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