Free lateral flow tests for asymptomatic COVID-19 provided to patient-facing community pharmacy staff

Consumer

The government has confirmed that free lateral flow tests for asymptomatic COVID-19 will be provided to patient-facing community pharmacy staff from April 2022.

Published in February 2022, the ‘Living with COVID-19’ plan outlined an end to access to free lateral flow tests for the general public from 1 April 2022 by the government. The decision was finalised because the government noted that free universal testing came at a momentous cost to the taxpayer, with the tracing, testing and isolation budget costing over fifteen and a half billion pounds in 2021/22. The decision was also taken because there was an increased level of protection against COVID-19 among the population than previously throughout the pandemic.

“Free lateral flow tests for asymptomatic COVID-19 provided to patient-facing community pharmacy staff.“

The plan pledged limited ongoing free testing, including free symptomatic testing for social care staff and limited symptomatic testing for a minor number of at-risk groups.

Despite this, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) stated that asymptomatic lateral flow testing would resume from April 2022, in an update published on 29 March 2022, in a few high-risk locations where infection can spread quickly while occurrence is high.

Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency, Jenny Harries, stated: “As we learn to live with COVID-19, we are focusing our testing provision on those at higher risk of serious outcomes from the virus while encouraging people to keep following simple steps to help keep themselves and others safe.”

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