Testing for Pharmacy Staff


The National Testing Programme provides COVID-19 tests to key workers or symptomatic members of their household to support organisations in maximising their workforce capacity during this unprecedented time.

Please see C19 Testing PSNC webpage for all the information on the national testing programme that has been launched. Details on how to access this service were sent to your nhs email addresses on Saturday 18th April 2020.

Essential workers can now self refer via this link https://self-referral.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/ .

Demand via this route is high so it is recommended that you apply for a test as early in the day as possible. This will provide you with the following options:

  • Testing at the nearest national test centre (Ipswich, Stansted or Peterborough)
  • Testing at the nearest mobile test station operating that day (these will vary)
  • A home test (demand for these is high so may not be available on the day)

The local arrangements below may be far more convenient and practical for pharmacy staff at this present time; however this may change quite rapidly.

Please click on the appropriate drop down for further details on COVID-19 testing for pharmacy staff and household members in your area.

Testing For East and West Suffolk Pharmacy Staff

IPSWICH site process for East and West Suffolk Pharmacy staff only is as follows:

To identify subjects to be COVID-19 tested, HR or the employee’s manager must:

1.Telephone self-isolating key workers and assesses their eligibility to attend the test centre – the testing is only for key / essential workers and / or members of their household that are symptomatic.

2.Confirm the date of the onset of symptoms (if the individual is beyond Day 4 from the onset of symptoms the test is not effective), that they are willing to undertake a test in Ipswich and are able to drive (some symptomatic individuals may be too unwell to drive).

3.Give the self-isolating key worker the number to contact to book a test (number circulated to pharmacies via NHS Mail on 20th April 2020). Phone lines are available between 09:00 – 17:00hrs.

To book a test for the subject to be COVID-19 tested, the helpline operator will:

1.Collect essential details from each individual to be tested: full name, mobile number, email address accessible at home, organisation and vehicle registration..

2.Complete the spreadsheet and give a date and time slot. The details in the spreadsheet act as confirmation of booking.

3.Send everyone being invited for a test an email with a link for them to complete their registration.

4.Remind the key worker to take photographic identity with them.

At 17:00hrs no further tests to be booked.

The local testing site will be based in Ipswich, with specific information to follow.

If you need immediate information to ensure your pharmacy can continue to operate please contact Tania Farrow on tania@suffolklpc.org.uk

WEST SUFFOLK HOSPITAL site process for East and West Suffolk Pharmacy staff only is as follows:

The criteria for testing are the same as those at the Ipswich site, namely:

Self-isolating because key worker is symptomatic

In this instance the key worker is the only eligible person in their household to receive a COVID-19 test. No other members of their household are eligible.

Self-isolating because someone in their household is symptomatic, but the key worker is not

In this instance only the household member(s) of the key worker is eligible to receive a COVID-19 test. It is that household member(s) whose data must be collected and sent to the National Test Centres – with the key workers name noted. If more than one household member is symptomatic, but not the key worker, then all symptomatic household members should be tested.

The person requiring the test must be within 3 to 5 days of exhibiting symptoms of the virus

 Anyone meeting the above criteria that wishes to access testing at the West Suffolk site should email (details circulated to pharmacies via NHS Mail on 22nd April 2020) with the name, D.O.B, name and address of the pharmacy they work for and a contact number for the person requiring testing.

Staff members can still access the Ipswich testing site if that is their preferred option.

Testing For Waveney Pharmacy Staff

Norfolk and Waveney CCG has indicated that they are now able to expand the testing offer to a wider group of staff and household members across the NHS, including individuals working in the NHS outside of acute care.

All pharmacy staff can access testing.

From 25th April testing will take place at three static locations in Norfolk and Waveney:

  • The Centrum centre, Norwich Research Park (close to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH)
  • The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn (QEHKL)
  • The James Paget University Hospital (JPUH) in Gorleston.

Mobile testing facilities are also available at Lowestoft, Cromer and Fakenham.

Testing will be strictly by appointment.

To request a testing referral and appointment:

Please note: A new (28th April 2020) booking process has now been introduced, which requires pharmacies to first one-off REGISTER with the testing service:

STEP 1:

An appropriate person in the pharmacy (Manager, Pharmacist, supervisor etc.) must email (details sent to all pharcies NHS net accounts) providing:

  • Name of business
  • Address
  • Job title
  • Contact number
  • You will then be contacted by the registration team to register the organisation so the key worker can then book an appointment.

STEP 2:

Key worker requests test by emailing ( details sent to all pharmacies NHS net accounts) to request a test (either for themselves if they are symptomatic or for their family/ household member who is symptomatic)

Step 3: NNUH triage over the phone. If eligible, an appointment will be given for the next day (depending on demand/ availability) at one of the three drive or walkthrough centres.

For clarity, to meet the testing criteria you must either be: An individual (adult or child) with COVID-19 symptoms living in the same household as a member of NHS staff or wider NHS family.

OR

  • A member of staff in the NHS family, with COVID-19 symptoms.

In addition, you should be in the first three days of the onset of your COVID-19 symptoms at the time the swab is taken – although testing is considered effective up until day five. No testing should be undertaken after day five, unless it’s for a specific reason agreed on a case by case basis by local microbiologists.

If a member of staff tests negative, then they can return to work if they are well enough to do so and should discuss this with their employing organisation. If an individual living in the same household as a member of the NHS family tests negative then the NHS worker can return to work without themselves being tested, as long as they remain symptom free and the whole household can come out of self-isolation.

All applications will be checked to make sure people are well enough to attend a testing centre, and eligible for a test in line with Public Health England guidance.

People should receive their test results within 48 hours or less.

Full details of how to apply were sent to all pharmacies nhs shared email accounts in Norfolk and Waveney on 28th April 2020.

If you can not find this info or need further support on how to apply for testing email info@suffolklpc.org.uk.

Suffolk LPC is immensely grateful to Norfolk and Waveney CCG for including Waveney pharmacy staff in this local testing at an early stage.

NHS Test and Trace: Implications for Pharmacy

On 28th May 2020 the government commenced its Test and Trace programme, and in the NHS test and trace: how it works guidance, if you have been in close contact with someone that has tested positive you could be asked to isolate for 14 days.
In the letter from NHSE&I regarding minimising nosocomial infections in the NHS it clarifies that NHS workers and GP practice staff are NOT exempt from the ‘Test and Trace’ regulations.

  • You should assume you are all asymptomatically infectious at all times.
  • All staff members with ANY symptoms that could be Covid-19 related should be being tested.
  • If one of your staff members is tested positive for Covid-19, then any staff members who have been closer than 2 metres for 15 minutes or more, without PPE, would need to self-isolate for 14 days.
    • They need to self-isolate for the full 14 days even if they have a negative Covid-19 test – or a positive antibody test.
  • Close contact could include:-
    • having workstations closer than 2 metres apart
    • having lunch, or breaks, less than 2 metres apart
    • picking or unpacking stock less than 2 metres apart.
  • If you do have a confirmed case within the pharmacy please work with Public Health ‘Track and Trace’ team to determine an appropriate and safe response.

In light of the above information in relation to the Test and Trace programme, pharmacy teams will need to review current infection control measures to prevent other team members needing to isolate and to help keep the pharmacy operational.You may need to consider reviewing your business continuity plans, face to face consultation arrangements, and how you operate break times or at times when masks are not being worn. Further information on the use of PPE in community pharmacies will be sent to contractors as soon as it is clarified.

Multiple pharmacies should follow the guidance issued by their Head Office. 

Please also use the following from Primary Care:
Updated Guidance for primary care contractors on reducing risks of staff acquiring COVID-19 19.06.2020

Business Continuity Checklist v2

Useful PSNC links below:

Read more about helping to minimise the spread of infection

View the emergency closure checklist for community pharmacy

We are also awaiting clarification on the exact process of notification to the LPC so to ensure we can continue to support contractors, if your pharmacy is affected by the Test and Trace programme in any way, please let us know on info@suffolklpc.org.uk.

COVID Antibody Testing

Details on how pharmacy teams can access antibody testing were sent from the Primary Care Gateway Team to NHS premises accounts:

East Suffolk, North East Essex and Ipswich on Tuesday 7th July at 3:40pm
West Suffolk on Tuesday 7th July at 5:31pm
Norfolk & Waveney on Monday 6th July at 2:40pm

If you are missing this information or have any further questions regarding antibody testing please do speak to Tania Farrow, Chief Officer on Mob: 07758 739052.