Information alert

The guidance on this page relates to Mid Mersey division staff who transferred from North West Boroughs Healthcare on 1 June 2021.

These FAQs specifically relate to asymptomatic staff testing for patient-facing staff using lateral flow home testing kits.

What type of test will I be using?

The type of test you are using is known as a lateral flow device (LFD). It uses a swab which has been in contact with your nostril. The swab is inserted into the extraction tube with the extraction fluid and then rotated and pressed to make sure the sample from the swab is released into the extraction fluid (swab is then discarded at this point).

You then take the extraction tube with the nozzle cap and place two drops of extraction fluid into the sample well of the device and wait for the results on the device.

What is the specificity and sensitivity of this particular test?

New analysis of lateral flow tests shows specificity of at least 99.9% meaning they are accurate, reliable and have extremely low false positive rates.

Is the test mandatory or voluntary?

Testing is voluntary, but we strongly advise all patient-facing staff take part to help keep patients and colleagues safe.

We are also now able to offer test kits to non-patient-facing staff who are returning to work on a voluntary basis.

How often should I complete a test?

You should test yourselves twice a week, every three to four days to fit with shift patterns and leave requirements; for example, Wednesday and Sunday, or Monday and Thursday.

You should continue to test yourself twice weekly regardless of whether you work part time or full time.

Ideally, you should carry out your test before your shift.

Should I continue testing during annual leave?

You may continue to test yourself while on annual leave, but it is not a requirement.

What happens if I get a positive result?

If your test result is positive, you MUST follow these steps:

  • Immediately report the result to your line manager or deputy (do not contact our Incident Management Team or Infection Prevention Control at this stage)
  • Arrange a confirmatory PCR test (this is the standard test carried out at a testing centre) through our internal testing team: covid.testing@merseycare.nhs.uk or at a national testing centre.
  • You and your household should self-isolate in line with government guidance until the result is known
  • If your PCR test is positive, inform your line manager
  • If your PCR test is positive, you DO NOT need to self-test at home using the LFD for 90 days from the date you became positive

What happens if my test is negative, but I have coronavirus symptoms?

If you have coronavirus symptoms, please arrange PCR test (this is the standard test carried out at a testing centre) through our internal testing team via covid.testing@nwbh.nhs.uk or at a national testing centre.

What should I do with the used tests?

You can safely dispose of the tests in your normal household waste, but should pour any residual buffer solution away first.

If I have a positive PCR Covid-19 test, do I continue with the lateral flow tests?

If you test positive through the standard PCR test, you DO NOT need to self-test at home using the lateral flow test for 90 days from the date you became positive.

Should I continue testing after I’ve had the vaccine?

Yes, continue to test even though you have had the vaccine.

If I am already being tested regularly through existing processes (for example our LLAMS teams and those who visit care homes as part of their role) should this be replaced by lateral flow tests?

If you are already enrolled in another testing regime through work, this should not be replaced by the lateral flow tests. Please continue with your usual regular tests.

Care homes are now requesting a negative test result within 72 hours. You should use a weekly lateral flow test in addition to the weekly PCR test to ensure that you have a negative test result as required.

Now asymptomatic testing is available to all UK residents, do I still need to do this?

Yes. We are urging all patient-facing staff to take part in the lateral flow testing through the Trust. This is so we can collate and report results about our staff nationally.

We also are now able to offer test kits to non-patient-facing staff who are returning to work. If you chose to take up this offer you must test yourself twice a week and report the results of each test yourself by completing a simple online form using this link nwbstafftesting.xmerseyhc.nhs.uk

You  are welcome to access LFD Tests from the government website in addition to our staff testing process if you wish.

How many tests will I get?

You will receive a box containing the following:

  • 25 foil pouches containing the test cartridge and a desiccant
  • Two vials of 6mls buffer solution
  • 25 extraction tubes and 25 tube caps
  • 25 sterilised swabs
  • Manufacturer instructions – please ignore these and use the printed NHS instructions provided with your box

I manage staff members who need to start using Lateral Flow Tests, how do I allocate the a box to them on the system?

Please have a conversation with your team or with any staff who would like to access test kits.

You will need to agree a named allocator (this doesn’t have to be the team leader, it could be an admin officer or other team member) who will be responsible for making sure all tests collected for your team are allocated to individual team members on the Trust system nwbstafftestingallocation.xmerseyhc.nhs.uk.

New allocators who do not yet have access to the system need to email: system.support@merseycare.nhs.uk

How do I report my results?

You must report each test result yourself by completing a simple online form which you can access on your own smartphone using the QR code below or using this link: nwbstafftesting.xmerseyhc.nhs.uk

If possible, please don’t open the link using Internet Explorer as it may not display correctly. Google Chrome or Safari are good alternatives.

Can these tests be used for patients?

No. The lateral flow home testing kits are for staff only. Standard PCR tests should continue to be used for patients.

Will this testing regime remove the need for staff who have been exposed to a positive Covid-19 case to self-isolate?

Government self-isolation advice should be followed at all times. This test does not remove the need to self-isolate should you need to.

Can I use the tests for symptomatic family members?

No. Family members who have symptoms should access PCR test from the testing team or from a local testing centre.

Why is the testing method different from that described in the manufacturer’s original instructions?

NHS Health Education England is recommending the swab is used and the sample taken in a different way to the instructions for use, with more rotation of the swab at a lower level within the nostril, to make it easier for you to carry out the test yourself. This is based on advice from experts and the manufacturer has been informed.  

How should we store the tests?

Tests can be stored at room temperature, out of direct sunlight and do not need to be kept in a fridge or freezer.

How frequently should a contractor/temporary worker be working in a trust to be testing?

Any patient-facing temporary staff, including bank staff, who are regularly working in our Trust should be testing and recording results twice a week.