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All community pharmacy contractors can now order Covid-19 lateral flow testing – a tool to detect large numbers of individuals with infections in a rapid and timely.

In a bid to limit transmission, the new rapid testing will be made available to all asymptomatic patient-facing community pharmacy members of staff.

NHS officials have written to contractors with information on the necessary arrangements that need be put in place in order to to roll out the testing in community pharmacy settings.

The guideline also includes further information on how to order and receive deliveries of lateral flow antigen testing kits for pharmacy staff.

Process of ordering

  • Primary Care Services England (PCSE) has started to invite primary care contractors to order lateral flow testing devices
  • contractors have been advised not to place orders until they have received this invitation
  • following receipt of an invitation, organisations should log on and complete their order as quickly as possible. The final closing date for orders across all contractors will be December 30
  • contractors will be asked to order one box for every patient-facing employee delivering NHS services. This should include any temporary patient-facing staff who provide NHS services through the contractor
  • delivery for most contractors that have placed orders is expected to start from early January
  • contractors should distribute one box to each member of patient-facing staff as soon as possible after delivery. Each box will contain 25 lateral flow tests, enough for 12 weeks.

“Anyone who tests positive with a lateral flow antigen test will be required to follow government guidelines, self-isolate with their household and get a confirmatory PCR test,” NHS has said in its letter to all community pharmacy contractors.

“…It is a statutory requirement to report all results, including negative, positive or void. This platform will be available from the end of this week,” the letter added.

Commenting on the latest testing initiative, Claire Anderson, chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board, said: “We very much welcome the allocation of lateral flow tests to help protect pharmacy teams. Being able to test regularly is a step forward in uncovering more cases, but is not the answer on its own.

“It’s important that teams still follow social distancing guidance, washing hands and other infection control processes where at all possible to also help reduce spread of the virus. I urge community pharmacies to sign up and order as soon as possible.”

The supply of these tests will allow all patient-facing staff to be able to test twice-weekly, using self-administered nasal swabbing and report their results through an online platform.

Any positive lateral flow antigen tests will need to be followed up by a confirmatory PCR test.

One of the major objectives of the latest testing process is to improve virus detection in primary care thereby helping to protect staff, reduce transmission and improve the resilience of services.

The latest move for Covid-19 lateral flow antigen test follows the government’s announcement in November that a lateral flow testing facility would be made available to all asymptomatic patient-facing NHS staff.

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