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. Separate arrangements are also now in place for school-based staff.
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.
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 most local sites are operating at Broadwood Stadium in Cumbernauld, Glasgow Airport and Edinburgh Airport. There are also walk through centres at the Fleming House car park in Cumbernauld and at Forthside Way (next to the Engine Shed) in Stirling. Additionally, there are some mobile sites and you may be offered to attend one of these, subject to availability.
How do I get a test?
The Government's Employer Referral Portal was decommissioned on 27 February, therefore it will no longer be possible for HR to arrange tests for employees through this route.
Priority booking for Keyworkers
As demand for COVID testing reaches new levels, we continue to adapt the Test & Protect system in order to protect the vulnerable and support the resilience of essential workforces.
From Wednesday 29 December 2021 prioritised booking slots will be available at test sites for all essential workers, including health and care workers and all other eligible keyworkers including teaching and cleaning staff. This can be accessed by confirming you are an essential worker when booking a test online.
A full list of those in scope can be found at Coronavirus (COVID-19): getting tested in Scotland.
If you have symptoms you can make arrangements for a test on a self-referral basis by completing the Get a free NHS test to check if you have coronavirus form. 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
Following a positive outcome from a Lateral Flow Test where you have no symptoms, an appointment for a PCR test should be arranged via the self-referral route by completing the Get a free NHS test to check if you have coronavirus form. Once you select "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 have to travel to a testing centre you will need to make your own way there. If you don't have transport, then you should use a home test kit.
If you are a Key Worker, any mileage incurred as a consequence of the requirement to take a PCR test can be claimed through the normal travel and subsistence claim process on MyView.
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 your 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 10 day self-isolation period, irrespective of a negative test result. Likewise, if you have to quarantine following a return from abroad, you must follow government guidance and must not return to work until the end of 10 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.
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 10 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. If you are isolating because your son has a fever and cough, you would normally be required to stay in household isolation for 10 days from when his symptoms started. 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 7.