The Scottish Government has published guidance for NHS Scotland to prioritise testing to enable key employees to return to work. This runs alongside the existing programme of testing in the NHS for key workers in Health and Social Care and Children and Families teams.
It is important for us to support testing in order to help reduce unnecessary pressures on your colleagues, and to help reduce anxiety for those who are concerned they have the virus. It also helps us maintain our essential services.
It's also important that you keep absence reasons updated on MyView along with contact details to ensure that you can be referred for testing at the earliest opportunity.
Watch Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO) Dr Nicola Steedman as she highlights the importance of regular health and social care staff testing.
How does it work?
Who is included in the programme?
Not everyone will be able to be tested by this process. Only certain groups of employees are covered by this programme of testing. See the Scottish Government's guidance for more information on categories included.
When is testing done?
Testing is only accurate if someone is symptomatic. You should get tested in the first 3 days of coronavirus symptoms appearing, although testing is considered effective up until day 5.
If you are self-isolating because a person you live with has symptoms, you can 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.
Where is testing done?
Testing under the UK programme in Scotland is currently conducted in drive-through sites. The two most local sites are operating at Glasgow Airport and Edinburgh Airport. There are some mobile sites and you may be offered to attend one of these, subject to availability.
How do I get a test?
There are two ways to register for a test:
If you hold a key post your manager will refer you to HR and a member of the team will contact you to discuss symptoms/self isolation. Where appropriate you will be referred for testing. You will then directly receive a text or email the same day inviting you to book an appointment or offering a home self testing kit.
If you hold a key post, you can also arrange a test via the HR team by emailing the HR Helpdesk (email@example.com). The HR Team provide cover for referrals of key postholders via the national portal from Monday to Friday.
If you have symptoms you can arrange an appointment yourself. You can refer yourself or a family member who is symptomatic at any time. You should note that a level of priority testing appointments will be retained for key workers.
Asymptomatic tests for school-based staff
The Scottish Government has recently announced that staff based in schools can ask their employer to refer them for a test, even if they do not have symptoms.
Any such requests should be routed through the HR Helpdesk (firstname.lastname@example.org) highlighting that the employee is asymptomatic and providing a contact mobile telephone number. On receipt of this information, a referral will be made through the employer portal. You will then directly receive a text inviting you to book an appointment or offering a home self-testing kit.
Alternatively, you can choose to arrange a test via the self-referral route by completing the Get a free NHS test to check if you have coronavirus form.
Once you click on "Get Started" you should respond to the questions as follows:
- Is the person who needs a test an essential worker – "yes"
- Does the person who needs the test have Coronavirus symptoms – "no"
- Has the person been asked to get a follow up test – "no"
- Is the person who needs the test part of a trial or a government pilot project – "no"
- Why are you asking for a test – select "My local Council or Health Protection Team has asked me (or someone I live with) to get a test, even though I do not have symptoms".
Thereafter, enter your requested personal details and submit your referral.
How do I get to the appointment?
If you are contacted as part of the testing programme, you will need to make your own way to the testing centre. Any mileage incurred can be claimed through the normal travel and subsistence claim process on myview. If you don't have transport, then you should use a home test kit.
How do I get the results?
The target for sending results is by text within 48 hours. A call centre is available by phone, to help people with the process and deal with test result queries.
You should ensure that you update your manager of the outcome of your test at the earliest opportunity
Negative tests and returning to work
Even if result is negative, it's important to still apply caution. If everyone with symptoms who was tested in your household receives a negative result, you can return to work if your work cannot be done from home, providing you are well enough, and have not had a fever for 48 hours.
Note, however, that if you have been advised by the NHS/Test and Protect Team that you need to self-isolate, you must not return to work until the end of the 14 day self-isolation period, irrespective of a negative test result. Likewise, if you have to quarantine following a return from abroad, you must not return to work until the end of 14 day quarantine period, regardless of a negative test result.
If, after returning to work, you develop symptoms you should follow the NHS Inform guidance, self isolate and advise your manager.
What will HR ask?
They will ask you for information relating to your self- isolation or absence, your symptoms and when these started.
This is entirely confidential and will help HR support the service to prioritise those individuals and critical service areas that will benefit most from testing.
It is important that you ensure that you notify your manager of any change in your absence status, i.e. self isolating or symptomatic so that our records are accurate. Whilst you may be contacted, you may or may not be put forward for testing during your period of symptoms/self isolation and this is to ensure that those working in areas of greatest priority are tested first in relation to the current COVID-19 pandemic. You may not be referred for testing if your symptoms started over 5 days ago.
You will be asked to provide contact details so that those operating the Scottish Government testing programme can contact you to arrange testing if applicable.
We will also ask that you let your manager know if testing goes ahead and to tell them the outcome of any test.
How does this help an early return to work?
The aim of the testing process is to test you if you are symptomatic, but also to test any symptomatic members of your household (where you have no symptoms but have to remain in isolation because a family member has symptoms). By doing this, where the household member tests negative, you will no longer need to isolate for 14 days, and this will have the greatest impact in reducing working days lost to due to self isolation.
For example, if you are symptomatic and receive a negative test result 3 days after the onset of symptoms, the number of working days could be reduced by 7 because you would not have to complete the full 10 days of self-isolation. However, if you are isolating because your son has a fever and cough, you would normally be required to stay in household isolation for 14 days. If your son is tested and receives a negative test result 3 days after symptom onset, the number of working days lost would be reduced by 11.