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.

UPDATE – Accessing Priority Testing News Item PSNC 17th September 2020

Please see C19 Testing PSNC webpage for all the information on the national testing programme that has been launched. 

There is one local testing option still available for pharmacies in West Suffolk and we have sent these via email to your NHS premises accounts on Monday 5th October 2020.
Please email info@suffolklpc.org.uk if you have not received these details.

West Suffolk Pharmacy staff only:

West Suffolk community pharmacy teams can access Covid-19 testing for yourself if you are symptomatic, or for a household member if they have symptoms that mean you have to self-isolate and be away from work.

All tests will be carried out at West Suffolk Hospital.

Making a request for a swab does not guarantee that you will be tested. There is a prioritisation process in place which is based on the staff members’ role and the length of time they will be away from work if no test is conducted.

Who is the swabbing effective for?

  • Any NHS staff member who starts to experience symptoms and has to stay home from work – ideally as soon as symptoms are recognised
  • Any NHS staff member who is having to self-isolate because a member of their household are displaying symptoms, as soon as possible
  • This is NOT an antibody test (which is currently in the process of being developed nationally) – please do not request a swab if you think you may have had COVID-19 in the past, this test will not show if you are immune from it or not.

If your request is granted, you will be contacted by telephone and given an appointment as well as further details about the test. Any members of staff who have requested tests for a household member must also attend the appointment and bring their smartcard with them as proof of ID.

If you do not hear back in regards to your request, please do not turn up to the hospital expecting a test will be conducted if you do so. We ask that you attend in your car but there are also some facilities for those attending on foot.

Anyone meeting the above criteria that wishes to access testing at the West Suffolk site has been sent an email via NHS Mail on 5th October 2020.

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.