Pharmacists, alongside GPs and other NHS staff, will get ‘third’ priority access to Covid-19 testing, after acute clinical care and care home staff, the health secretary has said.

In a statement in the House of Commons today (21 September), Matt Hancock said testing capacity was ‘valuable’ and should be ‘prioritised for people who need it the most.’

He said tests would be allocated to acute clinical care and to protect and support people in care homes first, while pharmacists and other NHS staff are given third priority.

Fourth priority will go to targeted testing for outbreak management and surveillance studies, he announced, followed by teaching staff with symptoms and then the public.

He added that tests for the public will be prioritised for people who live in areas where there are high numbers of Covid-19 cases.

‘The system relies on people coming forward for tests if and only if they have symptoms of Covid, or have been told to by a health professional,’ Mr Hancock said.

Meanwhile, PSNC has reminded contractors that if they disagree with ‘an assessment or an identification of a recent close contact’ by the NHS Test and Trace service, they should ask to escalate the case to the contact tracer’s supervisor for review.

In August, the Pharmacist reported that community pharmacy employers in Great Britain have only reported six cases of staff contracting Covid-19 since the pandemic began.

The Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance also said in a televised briefing today (21 September) that a Covid-19 vaccine could become available before the end of this year.