Health Worker Testing – Primary Care

Staff testing in primary care: pharmacies, opticians and dentists

In line with national guidance, NHSE/I are mobilising testing for health and social care staff.

The available capacity for Health Care Worker testing is being used on four nationally determined categories:

  1. Patients in ICU with a pneumonia
  2. Patients in a hospital setting with a pneumonia
  3. People living in a complex setting e.g. care home, prison
  4. Healthcare worker testing, who are defined as essential and where there is spare laboratory capacity (up to 15% of available capacity).

Eligibility for testing is as follows:

  • Self-isolating because NHS worker is symptomatic: In this instance the NHS keyworker is the only eligible person in their household to receive a COVID-19 test. No other members of their household are eligible.
  • Self-isolating because an adult (over 18) in their household is symptomatic, but the key worker is not: In this instance only the adult household member(s) of the NHS keyworker is eligible to come to a test centre to receive a COVID-19 test. It is that household member(s) whose data must be collected and sent to The National Test Centres – with the key workers name noted. The key worker will not receive a test. If more than one household member is symptomatic, but not the NHS worker, then all household members should be tested.
  • Self-isolating because a child (under 18) in their household member is symptomatic, but the key worker is not: we are awaiting further guidance on this
  • Self-isolating for other reasons: If the NHS keyworker is self-isolating for other reasons and is not themselves symptomatic, they are not eligible to be tested

The capacity available for Health Care Worker testing is currently limited but increasing across the South West and will need to be prioritised across each system. The principles for prioritisation of testing for staff are:

  • Staff who need to deliver frontline / hands on care to those patients and users in the current priority cohorts such as those patients who are classified highly vulnerable to serious complications of COVID19, care of those patients with a pneumonia, care of other very vulnerable patients in health care settings and those who are being ‘shielded’ in the community
  • Staff who work in fragile services that are high priority. Fragility may be due to shortage of staff or shortage of specific specialist skills.
  • Staff who work in a role or service that cannot be delivered remotely or through different ways of working, or who could not be moved to support an alternative role to enable backfill into that service

Please complete the form HERE outlining which member of staff (name and mobile contact number) wishes to be tested.  The first of the new testing sites (Plymouth) started work this week, adding capacity for this area: please indicate on the form if the member of staff is able to travel or be driven to this site or not.  There will be further sites rolled out in the coming weeks and the form will be re-circulated as appropriate.

Please use the form to detail how staff meet the criteria and prioritise staff within your practice. Forms should be emailed to by 10am each day. Submission of a request does not guarantee a test, as capacity needs to be prioritised across the whole health and social care system.  If the request is sent to a different NHSE email address the request is likely to be missed.

If the member of staff is going to be tested, they will be phoned by NHSE to review and arrange the appointment.  Learning from testing to-date is that you need to ensure the member of staff is aware they will be phoned and this may be from a withheld number.  Some people have not accepted the call.

When submitting the name of an individual, please ensure a test will ensure this person can return to work earlier.  Please do not refer staff who are isolating for another reason.  This has been identified as learning from the NHSE follow-up phone calls to-date.