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Asymptomatic Staff Testing – lateral flow devices

The National Testing Programme has recently introduced regular (twice weekly) asymptomatic testing of NHS staff (staff not showing any symptoms of coronavirus)​​​​​​, commencing with patient-facing staff in hospital Trusts, Mental Health Trusts, Ambulance Trusts and community health providers. This is 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. This has now been expanded to Primary Care providers.’​​​​​​

Regular asymptomatic testing is voluntary, 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.

Lateral flow tests have been introduced as the initial method of weekly asymptomatic testing across all the Trusts in Lancashire and South Cumbria and to all Primary Care providers (medical, dental, optometry and community pharmacy). These are rapid tests that provide results in 30 minutes. 

NHS Trusts

Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs) are currently being distributed to staff (both clinical and non-clinical) who your Trust considers having contact with patients. As they are less sensitive than the PCR swab test, LFDs need to be used twice a week (every three to four days, depending on your shift patterns), but can be done at home before you go to work and requires a nasal swab only.

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.  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).

It is intended that the use of lateral flow testing will eventually be replaced by a new method of testing using saliva. This is being gradually rolled out across Lancashire & South Cumbria and you will be notified when it is available in your organisation.  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.