Community pharmacies will be invited to order lateral flow antigen tests for asymptomatic staff from this week, NHS England has said.

The deadline for ordering tests will be Wednesday 30 December, it added.

Last month, NHS England announced that all patient-facing NHS staff – including pharmacists and their teams – would be eligible for twice-weekly Covid swabs to be taken at home.

Yesterday (15 December), its primary care email bulletin confirmed that the lateral flow antigen tests will be rolled out to ‘asymptomatic patient-facing’ primary care staff across England from this week.

The bulletin said: ‘A letter will be sent to all primary care contractors later this week with further information on how to order and receive deliveries of lateral flow antigen testing kits for staff. 

‘Following receipt of an invitation, organisations should log on and complete their order as quickly as possible. The final closing date for orders across all contractors will be Wednesday 30 December.’

Community pharmacists will receive an invitation to order the tests directly from Primary Care Services England (PCSE) – who are managing the ordering and delivery process – during a ‘window beginning from w/c 14 December’, NHS England added.

However, it said that sites vaccinating patients against coronavirus only need to order tests for non-vaccinating staff.

The bulletin said: ‘Vaccination sites will be provided with separate deliveries of lateral flow testing devices for vaccinator staff. 

‘No separate ordering is necessary for those staff, although the vaccination site should order for other patient-facing staff if required.’

NHS England said all results from the self-administered nasal swabs must be reported on an online platform and reiterated that positive results must be confirmed with a PCR test.

Dedicated FAQs and standard operating procedures ‘will be published this week’, it added.

A version of this story first appeared on our sister title, Pulse.