COVID-19 lateral flow testing for pharmacy staff

December 17, 2020

Following the Government announcement on 9th November that lateral flow testing would be made available to all asymptomatic patient-facing NHS staff, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) published a letter to all primary care contractors late on 16th December 2020, announcing how they can order lateral flow tests.The supply of these tests will allow all patient-facing staff to be able to test, twice-weekly, using self-administered nasal swabbing and report their results through an online platform.  Any positive lateral flow antigen tests will need to be followed up by a confirmatory PCR test.

The aim is to improve virus detection in primary care thereby helping to protect staff, reduce transmission and improve the resilience of services.

The letter from NHSE&I confirms arrangements for the roll-out, including further information on how to order and receive deliveries of lateral flow antigen testing kits for staff. A dedicated standard operating procedure (SOP) for primary care has also been published.

Ordering process

  • Primary Care Support England (PCSE) will this week start to invite contractors, via emails to their shared NHSmail accounts, to order lateral flow testing devices.
  • Contractors are advised not to place orders until they have received their invitation.
  • Invitations will be staggered across NHSE&I regions to ensure a smooth ordering process.
  • Following receipt of an invitation, contractors should log on to the PCSE online portal and complete their orders. Contractors will have until Wednesday 30th December 2020 to place their orders.
  • Contractors will be able to order one box for every patient-facing employee who is providing NHS services, including any temporary staff (e.g. locums).
  • Test kits are expected to be delivered from early January 2021.
  • Contractors should provide one box to each member of patient-facing staff as soon as possible after delivery. Each box will contain 25 lateral flow tests, enough for 12 weeks.

Staff engagement & training

Contractors should already have access to the PCSE online portal, which is normally used to order supplies such as EPS dispensing tokens, FP57s etc. However, if any contractor does not have access, they should contact PCSE at

Read the full NHSE&I letter, SOP and staff leaflet

Advice on COVID-19 testing and the application to community pharmacy