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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 should self-isolate immediately, notify their employer and book a PCR test through their employers agreed processes as soon as possible.

Staff members should remain in self-isolation 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 before every shift.

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 you should:

  • self-isolate immediately / continue to self-isolate if you had symptoms
  • notify your manager
  • follow the advice on self-isolation and isolate for 7 days
  • you should start taking lateral flow tests on day 6 of the self-isolation period
  • when you have two consecutive negative lateral flow tests 24 hours apart you can return to work the day after the second negative result i.e. no earlier than day 8
  • 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 resume the testing regime of testing before attending work/ going on shift from day 11. You should not return to work until a single negative LFT result is received.

All staff should resume the testing regime of testing before attending work / going on shift again as soon as self-isolation ends.

Regular asymptomatic staff testing

It is strongly recommended that all public-facing healthcare staff should do a lateral flow test (LFT) each day they attend a health setting for work.

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. They should not order tests online or collect from pharmacies unless in an emergency.

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 via Report a COVID-19 rapid lateral flow test result (www.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.

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:

  • Unvaccinated staff must self-isolate for 10 days.
  • Staff who are not in close contact with patients may return to work and should take lateral flows each morning for 7 days.
  • Staff who are in close contact with patients will need to contact their manager and will be required to have a negative PCR result before returning to work. These staff should also use LFTs before coming into work.
  • Staff who work in close contact with patients/service users who are known to be immunosuppressed and/or clinically extremely vulnerable will not continue to work with these patients/service users. Staff should be redeployed to work with patients/service users who are not immunosuppressed and/or clinically extremely vulnerable. They will be asked to take the necessary tests or asked not to attend work.

Staff who are returning from international travel

Staff returning from international travel should follow this guidance.