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Primary care to continue to receive free COVID-19 testing

The Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed which groups will be eligible for free lateral flow tests after 1 April

lateral flow test
Getty/georgeclerk

Patient-facing staff in primary care, including optometry staff, will continue to be eligible for free lateral flow testing after 1 April.

The Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed which groups will continue to be eligible for COVID-19 testing when free universal testing ends.

NHS staff within primary care should continue to test twice weekly when asymptomatic by ordering lateral flows from the gov.uk portal.

Staff who test positive for COVID-19 should follow the existing return to work guidance, where they must isolate for at least five days and only return to work after two negative tests taken 24 hours apart.

Staff who are household contacts of a positive COVID-19 case can continue to work as normal as long as they are asymptomatic and test twice weekly.

They are no longer required to take a PCR test and show evidence of a negative result in order to return to work following a positive household contact.

Chief executive of the AOP, Adam Sampson, welcomed the move to continue free testing for primary care staff.

“This decision will help protect optical teams and their patients from infection and reduce the spread of the virus while prevalence remains high. No doubt, the added assurances to continue asymptomatic lateral flow testing within existing funding arrangements comes as a relief to many eye care practitioners – most of whom spend their day working in close proximity to patients, in the testing room,” he said.

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