COVID-19 testing for health and social care staff

Local guidance on testing

For general guidance on getting a COVID-19 test for people with and without symptoms, see:

People without symptoms

If you test positive for COVID-19 on a lateral flow test, you do not need to have a confirmatory PCR test but you must self-isolate immediately.

You should also report your result so NHS Test and Trace can trace your contacts.

There are some exceptions to the new approach. You will still need a confirmatory PCR if you:

  • want to apply for the £500 Test and Trace support payment
  • are participating in some research or surveillance programmes
  • have received a positive day two lateral flow test result after arriving into the UK
  • are someone who is at particular risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 and have been identified by the NHS as potentially eligible for new treatments.

See: COVID-19: management of staff and exposed residents in health and social care settings

People with symptoms

Anyone who develops one of the three main COVID-19 symptoms - a high temperature, a new continuous cough and a loss or change to their sense of taste or smell - should stay at home, self-isolate and take a PCR test.

You must self-isolate if you get a positive test result, even if you have had a recent negative lateral flow test.

Negative PCR test result

If the test is negative and you have no symptoms you can go back to work.

Positive PCR test result

If the PCR test is positive, you must:

  • not attend work
  • notify your line manager immediately
  • follow the self-isolation rules for staff in health and care settings

You cannot continue to work in any capacity, even with clients who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been vaccinated.

Please refer to the guidance for the latest self-isolation rules:

Stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed COVID-19 infection

Managing staff and exposed residents in health and social care settings

All settings

For an overview of guidance in all settings, see: Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing for adult social care settings

Bulk upload spreadsheet for COVID-19 tests

Download guidance and a spreadsheet to record the details of people you've tested for coronavirus on that day:

See: Organisation testing registration: record of users

Care homes

Whole care home testing is available for residents and staff in all adult care homes:

Testing for adult care homes contains guidance on testing care home residents and workers.

Testing for professionals visiting care homes covers the testing policy for visiting professionals.

Admission and care of residents in a care home during COVID-19 explains how to admit and care for residents safely and protect staff in care homes.

Reporting new COVID-19 outbreaks to the UK Health Security Agency

If you have one or more cases of suspected COVID-19, please read:

COVID-19 care home testing guidance for regular and outbreak testing

If there is an outbreak of COVID-19, please:

  • inform the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) Health Protection team:
  • read their response thoroughly. It should cover outbreak guidance, and what further support they can offer if you have difficulty controlling the outbreak or case numbers escalate

If you have any concerns or need further clarification on the guidance that falls outside of the help offered by the UKHSA, please email Public Health Enquiries.

The team aims to respond within 24 hours, Monday to Friday.

Extra care and supported living

There are two different national testing programmes available for extra care and supported living settings – 'high risk’ and ‘wider settings’.

Home care workers

See the government guidance on:

For more information on home care agency testing, you can sign up to DHSC’s home care agency testing webinars.

Personal assistants

Personal assistants can order twice weekly lateral flow tests, see:

Day care centres

Weekly PCR home testing is available for adult day care centre workers. See the government guidance:


See the government guidance on:

 Hospice staff who are identified as close contacts

Fully vaccinated workers in hospices who do not have symptoms and are identified as close contacts of someone with COVID-19, must do the following:

  • Take a PCR test.
  • They must not attend work until they have had a negative result.
  • Upon return to work following a negative PCR test, staff must take a daily lateral flow test for up to 10 days. Hospices should try to ensure that fully vaccinated staff who are exempt from self-isolation do not have direct patient contact during this 10 day period. 

Help and advice on testing

First check the advice on testing for coronavirus (NHS)

If you have questions, or are having difficulties accessing testing, email