COVID-19 testing for pharmacy staff and self-isolation guidance
Published on: 18th December 2021 | Updated on: 15th March 2022
This page contains information on how pharmacy team members can access testing for COVID-19 and action to be taken if staff have a positive test result or are a contact of someone with COVID-19.
Page last updated: 17th January 2022
The UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) guidance on COVID-19: management of staff and exposed patients or residents in health and social care settings. covers:
- guidance relating to healthcare staff if they develop COVID-19 symptoms, receive a positive test result or are identified as a contact of a COVID-19 case;
- guidance on isolation requirements after contact with COVID-19 cases; and
- guidance on repeat testing for COVID-19 for staff in health and social care settings.
Pharmacy contractors should consult the full UKHSA guidance before making decisions related to staff.
Access to PCR tests: In its Primary Care Bulletin of 30th December 2021, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) advised primary care teams of how to escalate requests for testing needed for their staff. Contractors are advised to get in touch with their regional NHSE&I team who can put them in contact with the regional testing lead. Where PCR testing through normal routes is unavailable, regional testing leads may be able to help staff access alternative local testing.
Updated UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) guidance – isolation: In its Primary Care Bulletin of 14th January 2022, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) have published an update following further changes for the general population announced by the UKHSA on isolation, and the implications for the NHS.
All citizens can access free testing for COVID-19, with Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests available for all asymptomatic people.
It is recommended that all pharmacy staff test twice-weekly using a self-administered LFD test and report their results through the GOV.UK website.
Any positive LFD tests need to be followed up with a confirmatory PCR test.
Pharmacy team members can obtain LFD test kits in two ways:
- Via the Pharmacy Collect Advanced service; or
- Having them delivered to their home, by ordering from the GOV.UK website.
If ordering their tests online, staff should select yes to the question ‘Do you work for the NHS in England and take part in their staff testing programme?’. Staff should then input the postcode of their workplace to ensure the tests are registered as belonging to a healthcare worker.
Reporting of all test results via GOV.UK is imperative – whether negative, void or positive.
Further information on regular LFD testing can be found in the NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) SOP on lateral flow antigen testing in primary care and frequently asked questions (FAQs).
The Health and Safety Executive has published guidance on reporting cases of COVID-19 transmission that happened in the workplace under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 2013. This includes guidance for employers about using their judgement on whether or not a confirmed diagnosis is likely to have been caused by an occupational exposure and when to report.
The NHS COVID-19 app launched on 24th September 2020. The Government encouraged businesses and organisations, such as hospitality services, to display official NHS QR code posters at their venue entrances to help support contact tracing.
NHS COVID-19 app users can then be able to scan (check-in) as they enter a venue. This means that if people visit the venue and later test positive for coronavirus, other app users who were there at the same time may be sent an alert, if local public health teams think this is necessary.
Community pharmacies are not required to display NHS QR code posters but may do so, according to Government advice.
Government advice on which venues should display the official QR poster states that for community pharmacy:
‘Customers generally move around the space rather than congregate, and are expected, by law, to wear face coverings. QR codes are therefore not required but can be used if a community pharmacy wishes to offer this option.’
If community pharmacies provide flu vaccinations at other premises, for example, a community centre, an NHS QR code poster may need to be displayed and a log of those attending may need to be kept.
Healthcare workers should pause the NHS COVID-19 app when at work
NHSE&I advises healthcare workers to pause the app while working in a healthcare building, such as a community pharmacy. The app should also be paused if working behind a fixed Perspex (or equivalent) screen, which is big enough to provide adequate protection.
Further advice for healthcare workers can be found on the NHS website.
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