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‘Unacceptable’ lack of info on GP and staff Covid testing from 1 April


covid testing


Healthcare leaders have urged the Government to clarify what will happen to NHS staff Covid testing when universal free provision of tests ends in England next week.

Under current guidance, NHS staff are required to test for Covid twice weekly, reporting their results before coming to work.

Nothing that today’s spring budget statement made no mention of funding for NHS staff Covid testing, the BMA said it is ‘calling for the Government to provide reassurance that staff testing will remain in place and this testing will remain free for them’.

BMA council deputy chair Dr David Wrigley said: ‘It is completely unacceptable that with just over a week to go until access to free Covid tests is removed for the public in England, NHS staff still do not know whether they will be required to test themselves regularly as a condition for going to work beyond 1 April, or even if they will need to pay for regular Covid testing out of their own pocket.’

However, the BMA also stressed that the guidance for NHS staff to test themselves twice a week must not be scrapped.

Dr Wrigley said: ‘People visit hospitals and surgeries to get better, not to be exposed to highly infectious viruses, and the continuation of routine testing for healthcare workers is one of the most important tools we have in protecting both staff, patients and the ability of the NHS to care for patients.

‘The Government must confirm without delay that it will continue to prioritise the safety of patients and staff by continuing to fund routine testing for NHS workers.’

It comes as the NHS Confederation warned that continued testing of NHS staff at their own expense would cost each worker £50 a month, hitting lower-paid staff hardest.

Its chief executive Matthew Taylor warned that ‘in the face of a cost-of-living crisis, many staff will simply not be able to afford to regularly buy their tests’.

NHS England last month said continued staff Covid testing beyond 1 April was ‘under review’.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘Throughout the pandemic we have done everything we can to protect people receiving care and staff.

‘As set out in the Living with COVID-19 plan, from 1 April free tests will only be available for certain groups who are most at risk from the virus – we will set out more details shortly.’

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READERS' COMMENTS [2]

Michael Mullineux 23 March, 2022 5:43 pm

Surely not a surprise? NHSE and HMG have plenty of form. Expect ‘advice’ sometime after 1/4.

Patrufini Duffy 23 March, 2022 7:25 pm

Not sure you’re really that important to them now. Clap. Clap.