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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 COVID-19 symptoms

Any staff member who has any of the core COVID-19 symptoms is advised to stay at home, take a Lateral Flow Test (LFT) and notify their employer as soon as possible.

If a negative result is received staff may return to work when they feel well enough. All staff should start their regular asymptomatic testing again and use LFTs 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 who test positive no longer need a ‘confirmatory’ PCR test.

Staff should contact their employer to order and collect LFTs.

Staff who have tested positive

Staff who test positive are very likely to have COVID-19 and can pass on the infection so they are advised to:

  • stay at home and avoid contact with other people if they can
  • report their result online (www.gov.uk) 
  • notify their manager
  • engage with the contact tracing process which, as health and social care professionals, will include potential follow up telephone calls with a contact tracer or completion of an e-form
  • take a lateral flow test on day 5 and 6 after they tested positive and: 

The likelihood of a positive LFT in the absence of symptoms after 10 days is very low. However, if their LFT result is positive on the 10th day, they 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 redeploy the staff member to non-patient facing duties for the first 48 hours after the household member tested positive or showed symptoms. If it is not possible to redeploy the individual, they should remain at home for 48 hours before returning to work and using LFTs for 7 days. 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 redeploy to alternative duties or stay at home.  
  • 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/service users when identified as a contact. Staff should be redeployed to work with patients/service users who are known to not be immunosuppressed and/or clinically extremely vulnerable for at least 7 days.
  • All other staff members should follow the advice for the general public.

Staff who are returning from international travel

Staff returning from international travel should follow this guidance.

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.