College responds to Jeremy Hunt’s call for weekly COVID-19 testing for all NHS staff

Publication date: 04 September 2020

Dr Jonathan Leach, Honorary Secretary of the Royal College of GPs, said: “GPs and our teams are committed to delivering care to patients despite the challenging circumstances presented by the COVID pandemic, but they must be well enough to do so, and testing of frontline staff makes that possible. As such, weekly testing of NHS staff on a voluntary basis seems sensible - we know that testing reduces doubt and anxiety for frontline healthcare professionals, as well as reassurance for patients who may be, understandably, worried about the current situation.

“We've also heard from numerous GPs and members of the wider practice team that testing for frontline NHS staff has allowed staff to find out whether or not they have COVID and if not, return to work without having to self-isolate. Throughout the pandemic this has increased the capacity of general practice and the wider NHS ensuring patients can continue to receive the care they need.

“However, weekly testing in general practice may have unintended consequences and practical implications so we would like to see strong, unambiguous guidance from NHS England, outlining how workforce capacity would be protected alongside this initiative. We’d also like to see detailed plans on how these tests would be carried out in practice and assurance from the government that there is capacity to fulfil this initiative with results being made available swiftly as this is the only way the weekly testing’s aim - to keep the patients and healthcare professionals safe without diminishing the NHS workforce - will be achieved.”

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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