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Options for workforce testing
Every employer and every sector is unique. So, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) aims to be pragmatic about which delivery channels can be used. There are 3 options for businesses:
Option 1: community testing
Testing is offered at local testing sites and home testing kits can now also be collected by staff from these same sites. Please visit www.suffolk.gov.uk/covid-19-asymptomatic-testing to find a local testing site near you.
If you or your staff are working parents with children in school or nursery, you can register for lateral tests to be sent directly to your home. Register here: https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests
Businesses Collect is a new service being offered where employees can take test kits home from their workplace. As soon as further information is available, details will be shared here.
Option 2: employer-led set-up (‘DIY’)
Employers can set up their own on-site testing programmes, outside of that which currently exists with the NHS Test and Trace service.
For more information, register to order coronavirus tests for your employees.
For supplementary advice read Annex A.
Option 3: Home testing
Staff can now <9/4/21> get free home testing kits and undertake twice-weekly testing at home. These tests can either be order online (link below) or from a near-by pharmacy. These kits can also be collected from your nearest test centre.
With home testing it is important that staff log all test results online or by calling 119. Staff should let employers know of any positive tests as soon as possible, self-isolate immediately and order a confirmatory PCR test.
Option 4: use a third-party provider
DHSC is aware of third-party private-sector (non-NHS) providers undergoing UKAS accreditation who may be able to provide on-site COVID-19 testing services.
Employers who would like on-site testing but would prefer a private provider to organise and run the testing on their behalf can partner with one of the providers on the list of providers: general testing.
Employers will need to pay for this service provision, but are still eligible to order the free government testing kits by registering to order workplace coronavirus tests. The onus falls upon the employer to ensure that they order the test kits.
In partnering with a third-party provider, responsibility still lies upon the employer to ensure that they register to order a sufficient number of test kits.
To find your nearest testing centre and to book an appointment please visit www.suffolk.gov.uk/covid-19-asymptomatic-testing
The vaccine is offering tremendous hope that an easing of national restrictions may soon be possible over 30m people have received their first dose of the vaccine and roll out continues at pace. Vaccines will protect us in the longer term, and clinical trial evidence demonstrates that the vaccine reduces clinically severe infection and severe disease, but it’s still too soon to know how the vaccine will impact rates of infection, transmission, or variants of concern. And it will be several months before the vaccine has been offered to all adults.
Not all those offered the vaccine will take it up and there are some groups, such as children, for whom the vaccine is not yet authorised. Even when vaccinated, there is still a chance people can contract the virus and pass it on. No vaccine is 100% effective.
Around 1 in 3 people with coronavirus don’t have symptoms, don’t realise they’re infected, and are therefore unlikely to get tested or self isolate. This means they can spread the virus around workplaces without knowing it. Regular, rapid testing plays a critical role in safer working, stopping the spread of the virus, and is key to breaking the chains of transmission.
We recommend your staff get tested twice per week, three to four days apart. By getting into this routine, the risk of an infected person passing on the virus in the workplace is minimised.
To reduce the spread of coronavirus, Suffolk County Council is asking all employers to encourage their employees to get tested using a Covid-19 lateral flow test twice a week.
Rapid testing (also referred to as community testing or lateral flow testing) is a new tool to help identify and isolate individuals who have COVID-19, but do not have symptoms and may be spreading the virus to other people without knowing.
Tests are free and results are available within approximately one hour.
The tests enable us to identify people carrying the virus that we would not otherwise be able to find. Every positive individual detected who then self isolates for the recommended time can help stop the chain of transmission and prevent a potential outbreak in your workplace.
Learn more about asymptomatic lateral flow (rapid) testing by watching this short video https://www.youtube.com/watchv=ebxhEOLfTN0 or reading this: https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/getting-a-test/covid-19-asymptomatic-testing
Following a LFD positive test, a confirmatory PCR test must be booked online or via 119. If the PCR test is negative, it overrides the LFD test, and you and your close contacts no longer need to self isolate.
Get tested as soon as possible if you at least one of these 3 coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms:
Book a visit to a test site to have the test today. Test sites are open 7 days a week. Order a home test kit if you cannot get to a test site.
On day 8, you need to go to a test site – it’s too late to order a home test kit.
If you or your staff have symptoms of Coronavirus, please do not use lateral flow (rapid) tests. Please see here for further instruction on testing: https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test
If you would like more detailed guidance from Suffolk County Council for businesses working safely with Covid: https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/guidance-for-business-working-safely-with-coronavirus/
General guidance from West Suffolk Council for businesses: https://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-advice/index.cfm
General guidance from East Suffolk Council for businesses: https://www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/business/covid-19-health-and-safety-guidance-for-businesses/
Staying at home (self-isolating) can be difficult, but it’s important to stop coronavirus (COVID-19) from spreading to other people. Help and support is available while staff are at home.
Home, But Not Alone Phoneline 0800 876 6926: This Suffolk support service is for anyone who is self-isolating, shielding or clinically extremely vulnerable. It can provide advice and guide you to sources of support if you (or someone you care for) needs food, medicines, essential supplies, or are struggling with loneliness. Visit www.suffolk.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/home- but-not-alone
For more information, please visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-and-treatment/help-and-financial-support-while-youre-self-isolating/
Yes, Suffolk Growth is offering a programme for organisations that have that have experienced a significant outbreak of Covid. Businesses can be referred to the Suffolk Growth programme through Public Health / Environmental Health teams. Your company is eligible to receive direct, one to one consultancy advice to support your business / workplace to help manage the outbreak of Covid 19 on your premises.
Working closely with the Suffolk Contact Tracing Team, Suffolk Growth can offer up to 4 days of FREE advice provided by an expert matched to your needs. We have teamed up with the East of England Local Government Association (EELGA) who run a Talent Bank with over 75 specialist consultants available to provide support.
Bespoke consultancy support is available to help manage the outbreak and prevent further spread of Covid 19 throughout your workplace and employee networks. This support could include:
This support is FREE, for up to 4 days of input from a consultant we appoint to support your firm. Should you wish to extend any support package, this must be taken forward directly via your own business.
Please contact Karen Chapman (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss your immediate requirements and develop a support specification. Once approved, you will be matched with a consultant who can support your firm directly.
No. Rapid testing is voluntary but strongly encouraged as an extremely important way to protect yourself, loved ones, colleagues and your community. Acting like you’ve got the virus and testing twice weekly will help provide peace of mind and enable the return to a more normal way of life. For rapid testing to be effective it will need to become a regular habit, as a negative result only gives a picture of today.
Lateral flow tests are validated technology, it is safe, inexpensive and the results are trusted. Extensive clinical evaluation from Public Health England and the University of Oxford show Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) are specific and sensitive enough to be deployed for mass testing, including for asymptomatic people.
Yes, but if on-site testing works best for your business, please continue to use this route. However, other testing routes will be available (including ordering online) and you should consult gov.uk to find out what is available in your area. What’s most important is that as many people as possible take up the offer of twice weekly rapid testing, whichever route they use. There are several routes available to make it as easy as possible for everyone to access tests. If you already get tests through your workplace or school, this is still the best route for you.
Lateral flow and PCR tests have different characteristics and different uses. PCR tests have higher specificity and sensitivity but require a laboratory to process results and are therefore slower and more expensive. They are therefore well suited to specific use cases, such as those with Covid symptoms. While lateral flow tests have lower sensitivity than PCR, they deliver results far faster and do not require a lab, making them more scalable. As such, they allow us to test far larger numbers of asymptomatic people and get them their test result faster than with PCR technology. This will enable us to capture a large percentage of people who are infected and infectious, but not showing symptoms and unaware of the fact that they are possibly spreading Covid.
The rapid testing offer is designed to ensure everyone can access testing. Workplace Testing is one of several routes for people to access testing via supervised testing sites in the workplace or collection sites for people to carry out self testing at home. By providing tests to your workers via one of the workplace testing routes, you are helping to ensure that testing is available to groups who may not access testing otherwise.
Providing rapid testing for your workers is essential to help stop the virus spreading between workers, customers and your wider communities. By offering your workers tests to complete in the workplace or collect and use at home, you are making it as easy as possible for them to test and report twice a week.
Testing is vital to the resilience of your organisation, as it allows cases to be caught early before they spread, impacting the health and wellbeing of your workforce. As employers, encouraging your workforce to take up the offer of twice weekly workplace testing, is one of several measures that can help give you the confidence that you are providing a safe and secure workplace that protects the health of your workers and customers. By implementing regular testing, you can ensure business continuity and limit any future impact of infection outbreaks.
Offering workplace testing will build confidence among employees when returning to the workplace and demonstrate to them that you are committed to supporting their safe return to the workplace. We see huge benefits in allowing employers greater access to home testing and we recognise that all employers’ and employees’ situations are unique and different. Therefore, we want to provide employers with greater choice of testing that is right for their business and their people.
Collect options are additional routes to support you where it isn’t practical to set up a rapid testing site. We’re clear tha t o n site testing will continue to be a primary testing channel, and encourage you to set up workplace testing sites where possible. However, home testing is accurate and effective at detecting the virus in people without symptoms.
Tests performed at a testing site are more accurate as the tests are performed under supervision, while contact tracing for on site testing is started immediately unlike for self testing. The testing regime and rules are observable, which provides others with assurance that testing has been carried out. The data can also be captured directly, in a more reliable fashion and in a shorter time frame rather than requiring each person to register their own test results.