Testing for staff

Testing staff for COVID-19 (staff swabbing)

How to get tested for coronavirus 

Following the Government’s announcement to open up its National testing sites to staff members without symptoms, we are now able to refer all our essential workers for COVID-19 testing under the following categories: 

  • Category 1 - Staff with symptoms for 5 days or fewer
  • Category 2 - Staff with symptoms over 5 days or no symptoms  

Prioritisation will be given to those staff in category 1. Testing at local sites will be prioritised for these colleagues and their household members that are currently self-isolating and are within the first five days of their symptoms appearing. The Health and Wellbeing Team will directly contact colleagues who are recorded as self-isolating on HealthRoster. Line managers can also refer their team members by emailing swabbing@nelft.nhs.uk. More information is available on the intranet.

Acute and Rehabilitation Directorate (ARD)

As of today (5 May 2020) all staff who are displaying a high temperature at work in the Acute & Rehabilitation Directorate will be tested at work and sent home. The reason we are prioritising colleagues in ARD is because we have a high number of BME and other at risk colleagues working in this directorate. We have trained staff available in this directorate with capacity to carry out the swabs.

For all staff in category 2 who wish to be tested, we encourage you to use our referral form here so that you can be given a priority slot through our Employer Referral Portal. We would like you to do this is a co-ordinated way as per our roll out programme across the Trust:

All other inpatient (and ARD category 2 staff)

05 May 2020

Community clinical services

11 May 2020

All other staff

18 May 2020

The process will be assessed at the end of this week, including an equality impact assessment. This will help to make any changes we need to ensure the process is as fair as possible for all colleagues across NELFT. If the system overall demonstrates that it has the capacity to deal with larger numbers the above roll out dates may be brought forward.

Colleagues in category 2 can of course refer themselves to a testing centre, as per the national process. However, we encourage you to use our referral process outlined above so that you can be given a priority slot.

Staff will be notified via the weekly communications when the next phase of rollout begins.  

The test will determine only whether you are presently infected with the coronavirus; it will not tell you whether you have previously been infected and are now no longer positive.

Staff Category 1 (staff with symptoms for 5 days or fewer) – Local test centres

Testing at local sites will be prioritised for staff and their household members that are currently self-isolating and are within the first 5 days of their symptoms appearing.  We will directly contact staff who are recorded as self-isolation on HealthRoster once logged by their line manager. Line managers can also refer their staff members by emailing swabbing@nelft.nhs.uk

Testing is available at the below sites as well as the national sites above: 


Mile End Hospital

Bancroft Road, London, E1 4DG

Royal London 

Whitechapel Road, Whitechapel, London, E1 1FR

Whipps Cross Hospital

Whipps Cross Road, Leytonstone, London, E11 1NR

Phoenix House

Christopher Martin Road, Basildon, SS14 3EZ

Lighthouse Centre

Kingsdown School, Snakes Lane, Southend, SS2 6XT

Wren House

Hedgerows Business Park, Colchester Road, Chelmsford, CM2 5PF

King George Hospital

Barley Lane, Goodmayes, Ilford, IG3 8YB

Kent and Canterbury Hospital

Ethelbert Road, Canterbury, CT1 3NG

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital

Ramsgate Road, Margate, CT9 4AN

William Harvey Hospital

Kennington Road, Willesborough, Ashford, TN24 0LZ

Community home testing within BHR boundaries


Postal swabbing


Whilst the above routes are encouraged staff may still access the self referral processes advertised on the government website should they wish. 

Staff Category 2 (staff with symptoms over 5 days or no symptoms) – Employer Portal 

In order to be referred, please register here.

Once your details have been registered on our employer portal, you will be invited for a test via text message, prompting you to book and attend an appointment at one of the drive-through testing sites below: 



North Greenwich, SE10 ODX

IKEA Wembley

2 Drury Way, North Circular Road, London, NW10 0TH

Stansted Airport

Bassingbourn Road, Stansted, CM24 1RW

Ebbsfleet International Station

International Way, Ebbsfleet Valley, DA10 1EB

Please note that staff members that have been referred via the employer portal will have priority slot allocation over any self referrals. You will have until 8pm on the day you have received your text message to make your booking.  Any unallocated slots after this time will be allocated to people that have self-referred.  

Staff testing FAQS

Updated: 01 May 2020 

1. What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

The symptoms of coronavirus are a new continuous cough and/or a high temperature and/or a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of smell or taste (anosmia). For more information, click here

2. What is the purpose of being tested? 

Getting tested is important to understand if you, or a member of your household has coronavirus, so that you will know what steps to take to look after yourself, protect others and know if you are fit to return to work. The test will tell you if you currently have the virus. It will not tell you if you have previously had the virus

Testing does not replace your clinical care, and if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition worsens, or your symptoms do not get better after seven days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service 111.nhs.uk.

If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999. 

3. When should I or my household member(s) be tested? 

You should get tested in the first three days of coronavirus symptoms appearing, although testing is considered effective up until day five.

If you are self-isolating because a person you live with has symptoms, you can also refer them for testing. By testing the household member(s), we can be much more certain that you should either be self-isolating or can return to work. 

4. Why is the recommendation for people with symptoms to be tests? 

The test only checks if you have coronavirus right now. The test will give you confidence to decide whether you are safe to return to work if you don’t have the virus, or to remain in isolation if you test positive for coronavirus. 

5. Can my child get a test? 

If an essential worker is self-isolating due to an under-18 in their household showing coronavirus symptoms, the child is eligible for a test.  Children aged 12-17 can use the test themselves or have their parent or guardian perform the test. Children aged 5-12 must have the test performed by a parent or guardian. 

6. I’m an essential worker but I don’t have a car. How can I get tested? 

Home test kits are now available. You order them via the Self-Referral Portal and Amazon deliver the kit to your home. You perform the test on yourself following the detailed instructions that come with the kit. Royal Mail couriers will collect your sample and you will receive the results within 72 hours. You can order up to five test kits for your household. 

7. What will the test tell me? 

The test will confirm if an individual who is showing symptoms of the virus currently has it. It will not confirm whether they have had it and have now recovered. Like any diagnostic test however, there is always the small possibility of a false negative or a false positive result.

If you received a negative result you can return to work immediately, but only if you are well enough. If all household member(s) test comes back negative you can return to work, but self-isolate straight away if you or they later develop symptoms.

If any member of the household receives a positive result, please continue to follow the national guidance. 

8. How does the test work? 

The test involves taking a swab of the throat and nose. A single swab is used to collect a sample from the back of your throat and your nose. This swab is then placed into a sample tube and securely packaged, where it is sent to the lab for testing. Depending on where you get tested, you will either have a trained member of our team take your swab or be asked to do it yourself. 

9. Why is it ok to take a single swab? 

Providing satisfactory samples are taken from both the back of the throat and the nose, a single swab is perfectly adequate and consistent with Public Health England guidance on appropriate collection of samples of this type. 

10. Does the test hurt? How long does it take? 

You may experience some mild discomfort and you may feel a gagging sensation, but it should not hurt. How long it takes depends slightly on the person, but it is a quick process and is usually completed within a matter of minutes. 

11. When and how will people receive their results? 

When you take your test, you will be told how your result will be passed to you. This may be by email or by text or both. We are aiming to return results within 48 hours of tests taken at regional test sites and 72 hours for home tests. 

12. Who do I contact if I don’t understand my test results? 

If you do not understand your test result and you are concerned about your health and wellbeing following your test result, please contact NHS 111 or your local GP. 

13. What do I do if I haven’t received my test results? 

If you haven’t received your result, please contact the swabbing team in order to confirm the correct escalation process.  If you have followed this guidance and your self-isolation period has completed, you can return to work. 

14. If I test negative, and then later I develop symptoms, can I get tested again?

 Yes. If you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms, your employer may refer you again to be tested. 

15. How reliable is the test? 

The test is reliable and effective. There are different tests in use under this programme and all have been assessed as performing to manufacturers specifications before being used. In addition, the newly established Lighthouse laboratories that will undertake the majority of the tests have been reviewed by experts as part of their set up and each has a clinical virology lead. 

16. How will my personal information be handled? Will my manager have access to my results? 

Your results are only communicated to you. It is for you to choose if you want to discuss your results with your employer. Managers will be notified for those staff that are self isolating and have been referred for a test.