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Pharmacies to distribute combined PCR and lateral flow test kits as part of evaluation

PCR test

By Isabel Shaw
Reporter

22 Nov 2021

Around 3,000 community pharmacies will be asked to distribute lateral flow test kits (LFTs) which also contain PCR tests, as part of an ongoing evaluation into the effectiveness of LFTs.  

Contractors who take part will receive 15 combined test kits in December, with the evaluation planned for a three-to-four-week period. Those taking part will be expected to distribute these combined packs to patients before their expiry date. 

This comes as part of an ongoing evaluation of LFT kits by the UK Health Security Agency, in order to meet the obligations of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, according to PSNC. 

In previous studies, LFTs sensitively has been calculated by their ability to pick up the same results as PCR tests. 

Patients who receive the combined test kits from a community pharmacy will be asked to take a PCR test alongside one of their LFTs and send it to a lab for testing. The tests will include instructions on how patients can take part.  

However, patients who receive the tests are under no obligation to take part in the evaluation, and there will be ‘no additional work’ for pharmacy teams, PSNC said.  

‘The receipt of these combination packs will not affect normal ordering. Pharmacy teams can continue to order cartons as necessary. If a contractor is selected to assist with the evaluation, combined kits will be supplied in addition to their standard order,’ PSNC also explained.  

This month, The Pharmacist reported that contractors had seen a ‘huge’ decline in the number of patients collecting LFTs from their stores, following recent changes to the service which make it harder for patients to get tests quickly.   

In October, NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) announced patients needed to register for a collect code through the Government website or 119 before making a collection from the pharmacy.  

Previously, patients could collect LFTs from their pharmacy without having to present a code.   

In April, The Pharmacist reported that over 90% of all community pharmacies in England were offering free rapid Covid tests.   

The NHS community pharmacy Covid-19 lateral flow device distribution service, or ‘Pharmacy Collect’, was added to the NHS Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework in March 2021 as an advanced service.   

This service, which pharmacy contractors can choose to provide, was launched to improve access to Covid-19 testing.   

Contractors who do provide the service were offered a one-off set-up fee of £250 + VAT.   

A service fee of £1.70 and £1.20 is given per transaction of the LFT kit using a collect code and anonymous collection route respectively. 


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