Green light for routine testing of health staff – NHS chief

The head of the NHS in England has suggested that all patient-facing health service staff will soon be given routine Covid-19 tests.

Sir Simon Stevens said new tests and increased capacity mean that testing for all frontline workers – regardless of whether they have symptoms – should begin within six to eight weeks.

Routine testing of NHS staff is already taking place in the hardest-hit areas.

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Sir Simon said that, so far, 70,000 staff in those regions have been tested in recent weeks.

The chief executive of NHS England told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Routine testing of asymptomatic NHS staff has now begun in high prevalence parts of the country, areas where there are outbreaks, and more than 70,000 NHS staff have had those tests within the last several weeks.

“And the chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, yesterday wrote to the Health Committee, to Parliament, explaining that, because the availability of testing had now increased, and we’ve got this new saliva testing that will be available for hospital and other health service staff over the next six or eight weeks, we will now be able to press on routinely testing all patient-facing NHS staff.”

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On Monday, Sarah-Jane Marsh, the outgoing director of testing at NHS Test and Trace, suggested that routine staff testing would occur on a weekly basis.