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Guidance on COVID-19 testing for healthcare workers to ensure the safety of patients and service users.

First published:
17 December 2021
Last updated:

Staff who have symptoms of COVID-19

Any staff member who has any of the core COVID-19 symptoms is advised to:

  • self-isolate immediately
  • notify their employer
  • book a PCR test through their employers agreed processes as soon as possible

Staff members should remain away from work until the result is known.

If a negative result is received staff may return to work when they feel well enough to return. All staff should start their regular asymptomatic testing again and use lateral flow tests (LFT) twice a week.

Regular asymptomatic staff testing

It is strongly recommended that all public-facing health and social care staff should do a LFT twice a week.

Where possible staff should test themselves at home in good time before a shift, so that cover can be arranged if the test is positive. Vaccination or previous infection with COVID-19 does not exempt staff members from using LFTs.

Staff should contact their employer to order LFTs.

Staff who have tested positive (LFT or PCR)

Whether you have symptoms and tested positive via a PCR test or did not have symptoms and tested positive via an LFT test staff are advised to:

  • self-isolate immediately / continue to self-isolate if you had symptoms.
  • if you tested positive via LFT report your result online (gov.uk)
  • notify your manager. Engage with the contact tracing process which will include completion of eforms and, as health and social care professionals, potential follow up telephone calls with a contact tracer. 
  • take a lateral flow test on day 5 and 6 of the self-isolation period. 
    • When you have two consecutive negative lateral flow tests 24 hours apart you can return to work. 
    • If you test positive on either day 5 or 6, you should continue to remain away from work until you have 2 negative tests taken 24 hours apart or up until day 10. You are also strongly advised to isolate from others (self-isolate) whilst you continue to test positive.

The likelihood of a positive LFT in the absence of symptoms after 10 days is very low. However If your LFT result is positive on the 10th day, you should continue to test and only return to work when a single negative LFT is achieved. 

All staff should resume the twice weekly testing regime when they have returned to work.

Staff who are contacts of someone with COVID-19

Staff should follow this guidance if they have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

In summary:

  • All staff who are in close contact with patients should use lateral flow tests before coming to work each day for 7 days.
  • If the staff member is a household contact, employers are advised to request that staff take a PCR test in addition to the use of LFTs for 7 days and receive the negative PCR result before returning to work. In some instances health boards or trusts may, on the balance of risks and harm, feel it necessary to make local decisions to deviate away from Welsh Government guidance and forgo the requirement for household contacts to use a PCR and/or waiting for the result.
  • Staff who work in close contact with patients/service users who are known to be immunosuppressed and/or clinically extremely vulnerable should not ordinarily continue to work with these patients/services users when identified as a contact. Staff should be redeployed to work with patients/services users who are known to not be immunosuppressed and/or clinically extremely vulnerable for at least 7 days.

Staff who are returning from international travel

How to use a lateral flow test

Watch this short training video on how to self-test using a LFT. Once you have seen the training video, you are deemed competent in using a LFT.

The manufacturer’s instructions for use are also included in each box of LFTs. They explain how to take the test and how to interpret the results.

Further details and Standard Operating Procedures have been shared with health Boards and trusts. They will be distributed locally.

How to report results

You should report all positive/negative/invalid LFT results (gov.uk). If the test shows an invalid result, you need to repeat the test with a new test kit.

Report all positive LFTs results to your employer immediately.