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COVID prevention: many nurses unwilling to pay for routine tests

As England prepares for free universal COVID-19 tests to be scrapped, many nurses say they are not prepared to pay for routine testing to go to work

As England prepares for free universal COVID-19 tests to be scrapped, many nurses say they are not prepared to pay for routine testing to go to work

‘If they’re not free I’m not doing them’ – that’s the clear message from nurses as free COVID-19 tests are set to come to an end this week.

Government fails to clarify new COVID testing rules for nurses

NHS leaders have been left in limbo over the responsibility of health and care staff to test for COVID-19 when free universal testing is axed on 1 April.

As England prepares for free universal COVID-19 tests to be scrapped, many nurses say they are not prepared to pay for routine testing to go to work

As England prepares for free universal COVID tests to be scrapped, many nurses say they will not fork out for routine testing
Picture: iStock

‘If they’re not free I’m not doing them’ – that’s the clear message from nurses as free COVID-19 tests are set to come to an end this week.

Government fails to clarify new COVID testing rules for nurses

NHS leaders have been left in limbo over the responsibility of health and care staff to test for COVID-19 when free universal testing is axed on 1 April.

Currently, NHS staff are required to test twice a week, but it remains unclear if staff will have to pay for tests out of their own pocket or if the government will foot the bill.

Taking to Nursing Standard’s Facebook page, nurses vented their frustrations at the prospect of being asked to ‘pay to work’.

‘If they’re not free, I’m not doing them. Can’t afford to be paying for it and it’s not right to make it a requirement for our role and then make us pay for it,’ one nurse wrote.

‘It’s bad enough that our so-called ‘pay rise’ doesn’t match inflation and bills are massively increasing this year.’

Another said: ‘Are nurses not being punished enough. Pay to work, pay to park at work, pension contributions increasing, national insurance going up. Sorry, but I won't be paying.’

Nursing students baulk at possible £50 a month testing fees

One nursing student raised the extra financial burden that paying for tests will place on students.

‘I will not be paying for these, I already do placement hours for free at a financial loss after my travel costs have been taken off and I’ve paid childcare fees. I couldn't afford to pay for these even if I thought I should,’ they said.

Last week, unions and NHS managers called for clarity over whether health and care staff will continue to have access to free COVID-19 tests.

With some retailers charging as much as £6 for lateral flow tests, staff could end up paying about £50 a month, according to the NHS Confederation, which represents NHS organisations.

This would be yet a further blow to nurses who are facing huge increases in the cost of living including soaring energy bills and petrol prices.

Government stalls on clarifying new testing rules

A month ago, NHS and primary care managers were sent a letter promising ‘specific detail on the various testing protocols for patients and staff’.

The Department for Health and Social Care has said it will publish more details on testing soon.


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