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Lateral Flow Testing

This page was last updated: November 14th, 2022

Record a Lateral Flow Test Result

When do I do my test?

You’ll need to take a test Three times a week.

Colleagues with irregular working patterns should do a test Three times weekly, ideally 24 hours before their next shift or group of shifts.

Line managers will follow-up missing or unreported results with team members.

Regular covid testing for patient-facing staff – self-test kits

As part of the national programme lateral flow testing (LFT) is still available to NHS staff. Regular testing remains key to helping us protect colleagues and patients from unwitting transmission of the coronavirus.

All colleagues whether working in hospital, in the community or at home are encouraged to test three times each week.

Lateral flow tests involve a nose swab which is transferred onto a test strip and then takes up to 30 minutes to give a result.

If you test positive using one of these kits, you will need to self-isolate immediately, but you do not need to get a confirmatory PCR test.

You will also need to let your line manager or, if out of hours, the person responsible for your team, know as soon as possible, so that cover can be arranged.

About the test

  • Taking part is voluntary for all staff. You should order online for delivery to your home. These are supplied in packs of 7 tests and usually arrive by post to your home address within 48 hours of the order being placed.
  • If you test using LFT, reporting of all results, whatever the outcome, is mandatory and should be done through the Government portal.
  • You will be asked to undertake three tests per week, ideally on days just prior to your work days.
  • The test works rather like a pregnancy test, in the way results are given in a window. One line means negative, two lines means positive. An ‘invalid’ test result means you will need to repeat the test again.
  • An initial positive result using these tests means you should immediately start to follow advice on isolation for you and your household from that point.

How do I use the kit?

We recommend you take the first test at work, with a colleague.
Here is a link to a video showing how the swabs should be used, created and kindly shared by colleagues at Royal Surrey NHS FT. This is best viewed in Chrome or Safari. There is also a link to a written leaflet here.
Here is a link to a number of Frequently Asked Questions should you want to know more.

Where do I get my Lateral Flow Test testing kits?

You should order online for delivery to your home.

How do I report my test results?

You should report all results through the Government portal. You should keep the test strip as you will need the QR code when submitting details.

If possible use a mobile phone with a camera as you will be able to scan the QR code on the test strip.

If I need help, who do I go to?

Colleagues on our Staff HelpDesk are here if you need help, please call on 01872 25 2205 or email

If you do test using a lateral flow device you are required to report the result through the Government portal.

Your support for the self-testing programme will make a big contribution in our fight against coronavirus and will reduce the risk to you, your colleagues, your patients and families.

Please note the online request form will not open in Internet Explorer, please use Chrome or another browser.

Further information

Further information on asymptomatic testing and additional frequently asked questions can be found on the NHS Employers website

If you have any questions about the people elements of the NHS Employers FAQs, please email

Q and A for Lateral Flow and Covid testing

I have had a recent positive COVID PCR test and have isolated for 14 days should I keep doing the lateral flow testing?

After a positive COVID PCR test, you should not use the lateral flow or have any other COVID swab test for 90 days from this initial positive COVID PCR test. HOWEVER, if you get new symptoms of COVID-19 more than 14 days after your positive test, you need to arrange a new PCR test.

I have had a fever /other COVID symptoms but my lateral flow test is negative – can I go to work?

NO, You should not be at work if you are not well. Even if you feel OK to work you must get a COVID PCR test (you are symptomatic) and wait for a negative result before you come back to work. The Lateral flow test is not as sensitive as the PCR test so if you have symptoms it is not enough to reassure you that you are COVID negative. You may still be shedding virus and therefore at risk of spreading it to patients, colleagues or friends and family. It is very important you arrange a COVID PCR test.

I don’t have COVID symptoms but I have been in contact (either at work or outside work) with someone who has tested positive for COVID – can I use the lateral flow to check if I can go to work?

Keep doing the lateral flow test on your scheduled days but as a contact of a known case it is not enough by itself – You need to contact your manager and the occupational health helpdesk, and follow their advice about completing a contact tracing questionnaire and arranging a COVID PCR test, or isolating before you come back to work.

Is the lateral flow test as good as the PCR test?

All the COVID tests need a well taken swab. If your swab is taken well and has collected a good sample from your nose (and it was “uncomfortable” doing this) the lateral flow test is able to pick up almost all strongly positive cases. It is most useful when it is done regularly (three times a week) but it is not as good at picking up early or late infection or when there is a low level of virus present.

Why should we do lateral flow if it is not sensitive enough to confirm we are COVID negative?

While the lateral flow test is not as sensitive as PCR it is quick, easy to do and you can do it at home. This makes it a good safety net when it is done regularly (three times a week) as long as you are not been in close contact of a positive case without good PPE and as long as you don’t have symptoms.

I have been vaccinated do I still need to do lateral flow testing?

YES, you should keep up with regular lateral flow testing. We know vaccination helps you stop getting seriously ill from COVID BUT we don’t know how good it is at stopping you having an asymptomatic or very mild infection where you would still transmit the virus to patients and other people. Until we know the answer to this, it’s important to keep up with your regular lateral flow testing regime.

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