COVID-19 workplace testing available to businesses of all sizes

Businesses, including those with fewer than 50 employees, have until 31 March to register for the Government’s workplace testing programme

COVID-19 lateral flow in hand
Getty/Ilze Kalve
Free COVID-19 workplace testing is being made available for businesses of all sizes, with NHS England emphasising the importance of reporting all test results.

As part of the roadmap out of lockdown restrictions, the Government has confirmed that businesses of all sizes can register to order free lateral flow tests for workplace testing.

Sharing the news in an update to members, the AOP explained: “All GOS contractors can already access free lateral flow tests for their staff, but until recently, free tests have only been available to private practices if they employ 50 or more people.”

Under the new programme, businesses of all sizes will be able to obtain the free workplace tests, which will remain free until the end of June.

The regular testing programme aims to detect asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 quickly, with the rapid tests providing a result in under 30 minutes.

 Commenting on this announcement, the chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, Mike Cherry, said “It’s great to see that the smallest businesses can now apply to set-up testing facilities on their premises,” and encouraged all firms that would benefit from a testing facility to apply “as swiftly as they can.”

An online portal has been launched to provide more information about offering rapid workplace testing, and businesses are also encouraged to register their interest for the scheme before 31 March.

Dr Susan Hopkins, COVID-19 strategic response director to Public Health England and chief medical adviser to NHS Test and Trace, said: “Combined with other protective measures, rapid testing is a vital tool to help us lower infection rates and ensure that they stay low.”

NHS England highlights the importance of reporting results

With optometry contractors due to be invited to order more lateral flow devices on the PCSE online portal this week, NHS England has offered a reminder of the importance of reporting lateral flow test results.

Taking the test is voluntary, but NHS England has highlighted that staff who do test should always report their results online. As this is a statutory notifiable disease reporting requirement, results should be reported whether negative, void or positive. 

“This is extremely important as it also helps to provide a more accurate local picture of infection rates and therefore help to reduce infection rates in local communities, protect people at higher risk of infection, and prevent and reduce the spread of the virus,” NHS England said in a statement.