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GPs to be able to access coronavirus testing without experiencing symptoms

GPs and all other NHS staff will become eligible for coronavirus testing ‘whether or not they have symptoms’, the Government has announced.

This also applies to staff working in care homes and care home residents.

The testing programme, which the Government has said will reach a capacity of 100,000 daily tests by tomorrow, is also being expanded to symptomatic over-65s as well as people who have to leave home to go to work, and their households.

Previously testing was available to NHS staff as well as other key workers including emergency services, delivery drivers and journalists.

Anyone eligible can book a test using an online portal, the Government said in an announcement last night.

However, with regards to asymptomatic testing, a letter from NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens added today: ‘The approach is being piloted in a number of acute, community and mental health providers this week, which will inform further roll out from next week.’

The news comes as NHS England’s medical director Dr Nikita Kanani told GPs in an online webinar last Thursday that there is ‘definitely now capacity’ to get GP practice staff testing done so that they can return to work.

GPs were first told by NHS England that they would start getting access to tests from the first week of April. 

However, GPs continued to report difficulties in accessing testing, including having to travel long distances to testing facilities.

Dr Kanani said: ‘There is definitely now the capacity to make sure that you can get your testing done in order to get people back to work as much as anything.’