COVID-19 Key worker swab testing

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Following the outbreak of COVID-19, Public Health England set out guidelines for 14-day self-isolation when living within the same household as another individual who is displaying symptoms of possible COVID-19.

This level of isolation has had a direct impact on key workers attending the workplace and the Trusts ability to treat patients. This is important as the numbers of patients that we expect to see in the next few weeks increases significantly and many of you in self-isolation want to be at work to help our patients and support you colleagues but are forced to be at home through the current guidance.

In recognition of this NHSE has requested that swabbing of key NHS workers (including critical care, emergency departments and ambulance staff) is undertaken to support the return of these staff groups to work if the index case in the household is COVID free (negative). This basically means the first person in the house to develop symptoms will be tested. If there are multiple people in the household symptomatic then these people will also be tested.

There are now multiple swabbing sites being set up across the Eastern Region who are commencing swab testing of ambulance staff and more are coming on board each day. Norfolk and West Hertfordshire has been testing already and some staff have returned to work having had quick results. Initially most areas are swabbing the index case 0 and the exception are swabbing the symptomatic staff member, but it is anticipated that both cases will be swabbed soon. The results are currently taking between 24 to 48 hours to arrive, other testing options are being sought to speed up this process. The whole COVID-19 swab testing is a rapidly evolving picture.

To support in the coordination of this EEAST has set up a COVID-19 Coordination centre based in the Norwich AOC site to operate 24/7. Alongside this coordination centre will be dedicated sector leads in each STP / AOC to support in identification of eligible workers and household index 0. COVID-19 leads have been identified in each area and once your local lead has identified you as a potential eligible for swabbing, they will contact you and discuss with the household member who is symptomatic options for testing such as locations close to you, where to present and consent for the results to be shared with EEAST. These details will be passed to our dedicated COVID-19 Coordination Centre who will make further contact to book an appointment. If the results are negative, you can return to work after discussing with your local lead.

The Trust believes this is a supportive measure and the early testing is in recognition of the valuable role we all play in being responsive and caring for our patients. It is hoped that by this testing will give you and your families peace of mind and help us all play our part in defeating COVID-19.


COVID-19 Key worker swab testing - Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean to be swabbed for COVID-19?
The swab test involved for the testing of COVID-19 is a throat and nasal swab test. The COVID – 19 Co-ordination Centre will  book you an appointment with a Swabbing Centre who will then contact you to give you guidance when the appointment is booked for what you need to do and bring with you.

How will I know if myself or my household members need to be swabbed for COVID-19?
If you are self-isolating for 14-days due to a household member being symptomatic your household member may be eligible for swabbing. There are dedicated leads working within each sector to support in the identification of individuals and if you meet the criteria you will be contacted. On contact request will be made to speak with you and the household member who is symptomatic to arrange testing to enable swab testing arrangements and ask for consent for the results to be shared with EEASTCOVID-19 Coordination Centre.

Who will arrange swabbing?
Once identified and contact has been made by the sector leads this will be cascaded into our dedicated COVID-19 coordination centre who will log the request on our booking system. A further call will be made to arrange an appointment to attend a swabbing test. 

Where will I have to go for swabbing?
There are multiple sites across the eastern region that are setting up swabbing operations and appointments will be made based on your location. 

Will I be paid to take my relative to attend a Covid-19 Swab Test?
Any home to testing site and return will be paid in line with policy however the Trust will not pay passenger mileage in addition to this. Business Travel Policy 4.2 last reviewed March 2017.

How long will it take to get results and who will tell me the outcome?
There are multiple labs being utilised to test swabs which can mean there is a slight difference in timescales for outcomes of results. Most systems are currently working to a 24-72-hour turnaround and we do not expect results to exceed this timescale. You will be informed of the results by your local COVID-19 Lead.

Do I need to tell my Manager if I am diagnosed with COVID-19 through another route?
Coronavirus has been declared a notifiable disease - Health Protection (Notification) Regulations 2010 – and therefore there is an expectation that an employee would inform the Trust if they had this.

What does it mean to self-isolate?
This quite simply just as it sounds, that you should remain at home and not go out and about. Don’t go to work or to public areas, don’t use public transport or taxis etc. until you have been told you are safe to. The purpose of this is to reduce the risk of further transmission.

Full guidance is available here patients-undergoing-testing/advice-sheet-home-isolation


Published 7th April 2020

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