With just days to go before the 1 April deadline marking the end of free covid testing for many, a last-minute update from the Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) has failed to fully clarify how this move will affect the majority of staff working within the NHS.
The DHSC update, released barely two days before the deadline is due to expire, contains just two specific, limited concessions for NHS staff:
– free symptomatic testing will continue to be provided for people working in some high-risk settings, such as for NHS workers
– free asymptomatic lateral-flow testing will still be available to those working in some high-risk settings – such as patient-facing staff in the NHS and NHS-commissioned independent healthcare providers – but only where infection can spread rapidly while prevalence is high
No attempt is made in the press release accompanying the update to define what constitutes a high-risk setting, or to list what roles within those settings may or may not still be eligible for free testing. It’s worth noting too that staff employed by NHS-commissioned independent healthcare providers – ie private companies – may receive free covid tests at the taxpayer’s expense.
And tellingly, missing from the small list of groups who can still access free testing after 1 April are those staff members not working in high-risk clinical settings, which suggests that these employees could now have to pay for their own tests.
Full article in The Lowdown, 30 March 2022