GPs will be able to ‘opt in’ to offer self-administered Covid swab testing in their practices, NHS England has said.
The tests ‘can be offered to patients who present with Covid symptoms’, who will then receive their results via NHS Test and Trace, with the results automatically added to GP records, according to a bulletin sent to practices this afternoon.
In-practice swab testing will also be available ‘for symptomatic GPs, practice staff and their symptomatic household members’, NHS England added, to ‘support general practice settings remaining operational’.
Practices will ‘shortly’ receive more information via email on how to opt in to the swab testing service, NHS England said.
The bulletin, sent by NHS England primary care director Dr Nikki Kanani, said: ‘NHS Test and Trace is making Covid swab testing available to general practices in England. The service will be available to all practices on a voluntary, opt in basis and swabs are intended to be self-administered.
‘This will be a supplementary option for practices and does not replace any of the existing routes to access testing. Members of the public will continue to be directed to regional testing centres or home testing kits in the first instance.’
The head of NHS Test and Trace said last month that GPs it was ‘a priority’ for GPs to access to Covid testing for their patients via hot hubs.
The RCGP wrote to Baroness Dido Harding in September to call for direct GP access to testing where clinically necessary.
However RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall also warned that this should happen ‘in a very limited way and within an environment in which patients don’t see their general practitioner as being the first port of call’.