Changes to coronavirus (COVID-19) testing came into effect on 1 April 2023, aiming to ensure testing continues to focus on those at highest risk, enables appropriate clinical treatment and supports the management of outbreaks in high-risk settings including health and social care.
The changes from April 2023 come over a year after the nation began the transition to living with COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic the government has prioritised protecting the most vulnerable and over the past year, COVID-19 testing has gradually been scaled back as the severity and impact of COVID-19 on the NHS reduced.
It means that routine testing will end for the following groups and settings:
- All PCR testing outside NHS settings.
- Routine asymptomatic testing, including testing on admission, for staff and patients across all health and social care settings including hospitals and care homes – the majority of this testing has already been paused since August 2022.
- Routine symptomatic testing of staff and residents in care settings – routine symptomatic testing will also end in other settings including prisons and places of detention, homelessness and refuge settings and asylum settings.
PCR testing will continue to be used by the NHS for diagnosis where needed for patients before accessing COVID-19 treatment or for specific personal clinically directed care.
Capacity will also be retained to ensure testing can be scaled up swiftly if a COVID-19 wave, or a new variant, results in significantly increased pressure on the NHS.
The NHS COVID-19 app, which alerts close contacts of a positive case and provides the latest health advice about the virus, will close on 27 April 2023 and current users will be notified of this through the app.
DONT FORGET: Under regulation 6 of the Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations, employers must still ‘ensure that every enclosed workplace is ventilated by a sufficient quantity of fresh or purified air’.