A new pharmacy service was recently launched in England, which allows the public to collect free COVID-19 lateral flow tests (lateral flow devices – LFDs) from community pharmacies. The NHS Community Pharmacy COVID-19 Lateral Flow Device (LFD) Distribution Service was launched on the 29th of March 2021, but the promotion of this service to the public will not start after Easter. Pharmacies were able to order LFDs from the 29th of March, which means the public can collect LFDs from participating pharmacies.
- How does lateral flow test work (video)?
- Do all pharmacies participate in COVID lateral flow test?
- How to find participating pharmacy?
- Who can get a free COVID test (device) from the pharmacy?
- What to expect when collecting COVID lateral flow test from a pharmacy?
- Advice for patients collecting COVID lateral flow test from the pharmacy
- How to perform COVID Lateral Flow Test (video)?
Details of free COVID-19 lateral flow tests
Covid-19 self-test (rapid antigen test), distributed by pharmacies, allows asymptomatic patients to do a COVID test at home as a part of the NHS Test and Trace service. Each box of Covid-19 self-tests contains seven devices and swabs, which allows twice weekly tests over three weeks. An additional test is provided in case the test is performed incorrectly.
How does lateral flow test work (video)?
Do all pharmacies participate in the distribution of COVID-19 tests?
A newly introduced service, which allows pharmacies to distribute COVID lateral flow tests, is classified as ‘advanced service‘.
Community pharmacies do not need to participate in advance services; however, because of the simplicity of this service, one would expect most pharmacies to take part in the distribution of COVD lateral flow devices.
How to find participating pharmacy?
Members of the public can use Rapid Test Collection COVID-19 Test and Vaccination Site Finder to search for pharmacies that participate in the distribution of COVID lateral flow tests. Keep in mind that this service is recently launched, and it will take few weeks for pharmacies to be listed in the finder.
Who can get a free COVID-19 lateral flow tests (device) from the pharmacy?
Asymptomatic individuals can get rapid lateral flow tests in England. Individuals who have coronavirus symptoms should not be using this service; instead, they can call 119 to order a test for people with COVID symptoms or book a visit to a test site.
Examples of people who may need free COVID lateral flow tests:
- Parents of children at school or individuals who are in a bubble with school children
- Individual who work at a school
- People who regularly leave the house for work
- People who were advised by a council to perform rapid lateral flow tests
- People who were recommended by a healthcare professional or GP to perform tests
What to expect when collecting COVID-19 lateral flow tests from a pharmacy?
Individuals who request a rapid lateral flow test from the pharmacy must answer three questions:
- Have you collected LFD test kits before?
- Why do you need tests?
- What is the age range of the person using the kit?
These questions are used for the evaluation of the service rather than to check eligibility for the service. Generally, no one will be denied access to lateral COVID tests.
Advice for patients collecting COVID lateral flow test from the pharmacy
- A negative result does not guarantee someone doesn’t have COVID-19.
- One box containing seven tests will be provided for each individual.
- It is possible to collect up to 4 boxes in each transaction (e.g. for members of the family)
- There is no minimum age for the use of LFD test kits.
- A person requesting the supply of lateral flow tests from the pharmacy should be 18 years of age or older.
- Testing cannot be done in the pharmacy.
- Instructions on how to perform the test are included inside the box.
- The public needs to report results online or by calling 119. Both negative and positive results need to be reported. The public is advised about the next steps when results are recorded online.
How to perform COVID-19 Lateral Flow Test (video)?