Lateral flowing testing in primary care from 1 April

AOP calls for clarity from NHS England

It is the AOP’s understanding that NHS England guidance states primary care staff should conduct asymptomatic testing twice per week.

The withdrawal of government-funded (free to the public) lateral flow tests, announced as part of the Living with COVID guidelines, means that practices and staff will no longer have access to these tests at present.

Given the proximity between optometrists and patients, the AOP is aware that the lack of testing has the potential to place patients at risk. From 1 April, practitioners will be faced with the choice of either not testing, or self-funding the tests, which with other rising costs could be unaffordable for many.

We understand the level of concern this situation is creating for our members. As the deadline of 31 March approaches, it is important that practices have clarity on the availability of tests and the associated costs. We have raised this question as a matter of urgency with NHS England.