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Patients should not be directed to NHS 111 for Covid testing, GPs told

GPs have been reminded not to tell patients to contact NHS 111 if they require testing for coronavirus (Covid-19). 

A bulletin from NHS England said that it ‘is useful for practices to be aware that patients should not be directed to NHS 111 to co-ordinate testing for Covid-19’.

Instead, patients should be directed to the Government’s website where members of the public can arrange to get tested, provided that they fulfil the criteria.

It comes as the Government has launched a new, separate online portal for care homes to arrange Covid testing.

Meanwhile, GPs who require a Covid-19 test also need to access a self-referral portal. The Government has said GPs will be able to get tested regardless of whether they are showing symptoms of the illness.

However, it has also said that GPs who have symptoms, but test negative, should still stay off work due to the risk of false negatives.

The Government had set out a target of carrying out 100,000 Covid-19 tests a day by the end of April, as part of its strategy to test and track the spread of the virus.

And, although it has yet to consistently meet that target, it is now aiming to increase that capacity to 200,000 tests a day.

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘The additional testing capacity we have achieved delivers many thousands of tests a day for residents and staff in care homes.

‘This new portal allows those who book tests for staff and residents to do so even more easily, and it also offers a route for the prioritisation of care homes with the greatest need.

‘We will continue to grow our testing capacity, as we know the certainty and confidence that high quality testing can provide.’