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Asymptomatic Staff Testing – lateral flow devices

The National Testing Programme has been providing regular, twice-weekly asymptomatic testing for NHS patient-facing staff (staff not showing any symptoms of coronavirus) across all Trusts and Primary Care providers, for over six months. This uses rapid, lateral flow devices (LFDs) to help reduce nosocomial (hospital-acquired) transmissions, protect the NHS workforce and reduce the spread of the virus, both in healthcare settings and in the home environment of healthcare staff. 

For most Trusts across Lancashire and South Cumbria, however, asymptomatic testing now mainly consists of saliva testing , using the LAMP testing process, which is done once a week.

All regular asymptomatic testing is voluntary, whether undertaken by lateral flow devices or the (LAMP) saliva test, but you are strongly encouraged to participate – it benefits you as an individual, your loved ones and the patients you care for, as well as the colleagues you work with.

This page is concerned with asymptomatic testing using lateral flow devices.

NHS Trusts

Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs), which use nasal and throat swabs, continue to be used in most Trusts, but are being replaced at an increasing rate by saliva testing. LFD testing is less sensitive than the PCR swab test and needs to be done twice a week (every three to four days, depending on your shift patterns), but can be done at home before you go to work.

A positive result requires a confirmatory PCR swab test using your Trusts own processes. You will be required to isolate and contact your Occupational Health team, line manager or other agreed Trust contact, to arrange a laboratory test to confirm the result. A confirmed positive result requires staff to follow national guidance on self-isolation for you and your household.

The link below provides a healthcare staff guide to using Lateral Flow Devices.

Lateral flow asymptomatic staff testing for COVID-19 (opens in a new window). 

This provides detailed information on how to prepare for, take, dispose of and report on the results of the LFD test using a specific set of data. The guidance also identifies what you should do in the case of negative or invalid test results.

It also contains a standard operating procedure and FAQs for the LFD test. In addition, there is also a link within it to questions around HR processes, via the NHS Employers’ FAQs.

The link below provides access to a training video and leaflet.

Lateral flow training video & leaflet (opens in a new window) 

Primary Care Providers

Asymptomatic testing for patient-facing primary care staff follows a similar process to NHS Trust staff outlined above and has as yet, not been offset by saliva (LAMP) testing.  This too uses LFDs and requires confirmatory PCR testing for positive results.

The asymptomatic staff testing for Covid-19 for primary care staff (opens in a new window) guidance provided by NHSE/I includes the documents:

  • standard operating procedure
  • the healthcare staff guide for self-testing using Lateral Flow Devices
  • Frequently Asked Questions for primary care staff
  • the letter to Primary Care contractors
  • and a link to a video on how to do the test on the NHS Learning Hub (opens in a new window).

For more information about the saliva testing programme please go to the Coronavirus saliva test for staff entry on these webpages.

Please note: If your PCR test is positive you DO NOT need to self-test using the LFD or LAMP testing process for 90 days, from the date you became positive.