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Staff Self-Swab PCR Testing

Covid-19 PCR Testing Process for RD&E Staff


Who is COVID self-swabbing for?
  • All symptomatic RD&E staff
  • All asymptomatic RD&E staff that have tested positive on LFD (Lateral flow device/Lateral Flow Test/Rapid antigen test).


If someone in your household has COVID symptoms then that person should self-isolate and follow NHS guidance.

      • While we encourage all staff to test through the Trust PCR (known as pillar 1) route, following government guidance we will not be performing testing on household members.
          • Free testing for COVID-19 from the NHS has ended for the majority of the population in England and as such most people are no longer advised to get tested if they become symptomatic.
          • Some groups are still eligible for free testing through the NHS – see NHS website for further information – NHS guidance for testing.
          • In the rare event that a PCR test is required through the Trust process for a household member, this should be requested through the line manager who will seek approval through their divisional hub.
      • Staff who are contacts of a household positive case can remain at work providing:
        • They have been fully vaccinated:
          • With 2nd dose more than 14 days ago or appropriate booster (within 1 month of being due)
          • OR  both doses of an approved vaccine, plus the booster with the individual being post seven days of this
        •  AND They are well and NOT symptomatic. These staff should undertake a Lateral Flow Device test daily (before work) for 10 days from the first day the household member had symptoms or tested positive.
          • If staff are working with vulnerable patients, they should discuss with their line manager minimising contact with these patients wherever possible, and in all cases, staff are asked to adhere to good IPC measures and wear the appropriate PPE.
          • If the staff member becomes symptomatic and/or does not feel well enough to work, they should stay at home and report this to the HR Absence HUB.
          • Where the household positive contact is a dependent, staff will be required to follow the normal Special Leave Policy, which normally allows 1-3 days special leave and in exceptional circumstances, up to a maximum of 5 days in any given 12 month period under the manager’s discretion.


What symptoms merit a PCR swab?
  • a. Core symptoms of COVID-19:
        • A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
        • Fever over 37.8°C – a high temperature means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
        • Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
      • Get swabbed and self isolate until you get the result


  • b. Minor symptoms can also be due to COVID-19 and often develop before the core symptoms such as:
        • Sore throat
        • Shortness of breath
        • Malaise (a general feeling of weakness, discomfort, feeling unwell)
        • Feeling tired or exhausted
        • An aching body
        • A blocked or runny nose
        • Headache
        • Loss of appetite
        • Diarrhoea
        • Feeling nauseous or being sick
      • If you have symptoms DO NOT USE your Lateral Flow Device. Get tested on your way into work or as soon as possible. You can work (only if you feel well enough) while awaiting your test result so long as you DON’T have any core symptoms.
      • Not sure? Be sure! and get tested for COVID


Who do I contact if I or a household member have core symptoms for COVID-19?
  • Staff members:
    • Tell your line manager if you are due to work
    • You will need to inform HR Absence Hub (01392 406960 or rde-tr.covid19hrabsencehub@nhs.net) and your line manager to log your isolation absence as soon as possible.
        • Contact HR Absence hub only during working hours (Between 08:30–17:00 Monday – Friday) otherwise contact the next working day. Site management can be contacted Out-Of-Hours (via switchboard) if truly urgent.
    • DO NOT GO TO YOUR WORKPLACE if you have the core symptoms of COVID (cough, fever, loss of smell/taste) until you are given the all-clear.


  • Household members:
    • The Absence Hub only needs to be contacted if the Staff member is unable to come to work.
    • Staff members can still come to work providing they:
      • Are fully vaccinated
      • Are symptom free and Test with LFD before attending work and return a negative result for 10 days from the first day the household member had symptoms or tested positive.


Where do I go to self-swab?
  • You can now get a self-swab test from one of the testing locations across the Trust.
      • Details of these are here.
      • The self-swab sites at Wonford will be accessible 24hrs a day.
  • If you have core symptoms you can swab yourself using the swabs provided at the Old Path Lab on the Wonford site.
    • (Household contacts can only be tested if it has been approved by your divisional hub via a request from your line manager.)
      • Go to Old Path Block (behind Noy Scott House – see map below).
          • Drive in the top entrance to the hospital off Barrack Road or Church Road.
          • (Or if at work) walk up the E-link corridor to Old Pathology Building
      • Ideally ask a household member to drive you, but if you are well enough, you can drive yourself
      • Do NOT come on public transport – if you can’t drive, stay at home and discuss with Absence hub as above


Do I need to bring anything with me?
  • Hand sanitiser – to clean your hands before and after swabbing
  • A face mask – for when posting your swab
  • A pen – to write on the form and swab
  • NHS number


What is provided in the self-swabbing station?
  • Swabs
  • The request form which you need to complete in full (including your NHS number & NHS email)
  • Specimen bags
  • There are also information leaflets you may take away with you

Please ONLY use what you need for this visit – DO NOT take extra swabs and forms away with you – taking more than you need may impact the supply of swabs available for patient and staff testing – PLEASE be considerate of others.


How do I take a nasopharyngeal swab?

Throat Swab

  • Gel your hands.
  • Open wide and say “aahh”. The procedure is likely to cause gagging. Quickly but gently rub the swab over the back of the throat and if possible the tonsillar bed too.

 Use the same swab for your nose

Nose Swab

  • Insert the swab into the nose very gently along the floor of the nose (i.e. backwards, not upwards) JUST about one inch (3cm) inside one nostril and twist gently around the inside of the nose.
  • Please repeat this for the other nostril, with the same swab, to obtain adequate material.  Please do this gently – no force is needed.
    • Place into the yellow-top COBAS tube and break off the shaft of the swab at the snap line and replace lid
    • Write your name, DOB, NHS number and the date on the tube
    • Double bag the tube (One clear plastic bag inside a second plastic bag)
    • Make sure you complete all details on the request form (NHS number and NHS email are essential (sample WILL NOT be processed without them) & a mobile number is recommended) and place into the pocket on outer specimen bag (please write on the form if you are a SIREN Study participant.)
    • Take your swab & completed form and post through the hatch on the left side of the entrance to the Old Path Lab building. DO NOT attempt to hand it directly to a member of staff.
    • Please put any waste in the bins provided



What is the test?
  • In the lab, we perform a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test to detect viral RNA (Ribonucleic acid) for the virus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2.)
  • This test detects SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA: if present it means you are / have recently been infected.
  • It cannot determine when you or your household contact were first infected, or whether you are still infectious since the virus we detect may be dead. Neither will this test be able to tell if you have previously been infected and the infection is now cleared.
  • This test does not check for immunity to COVID-19 infection.
  • Most people with COVID-19 are infectious for 10 days after the onset of symptoms, so this is what determines when you can safely return to work.


How long will it take to get a result?
  • Staff-swabs are classed as non-urgent and will be processed at the Main Microbiology lab in the Old Path Block with a turnaround time of 24 hours (usually within 8-9 hours).
  • Please note: this lab is only open between 08:00-22:00 Monday – Friday and 08:00-20:00 weekends and bank holidays.
  • If you think you require urgent testing – please contact Site management (via switchboard) to discuss – only they or a Consultant Microbiologist can authorise urgent staff testing.


How do I get my results?
  • Each person tested will be contacted by Occupational Health with their COVID19 result by email or text (usually within 24 hours). Please ensure you can check your NHS email account.
  • PLEASE BE PATIENT for your result.
  • If you have not heard anything after 48hrs after submitting your swab contact Occupational Health rde-tr.occhealthcovid@nhs.net
  • To receive you result faster you can access it through the My Care Patient Portal. (Register for My Chart – registration can take up to 5 working days.)


What do I do if my result is Positive?
  • You will be informed of your result initially by email, but will also receive a phone call from Occupational Health.
  • You should STAY AT HOME and follow Trust/Occupational Health guidance on self-isolation.
    • You will be informed how long you will need to stay off from work and given guidance on when you can return.
    • If you have been at work since you became symptomatic or for 48 hours prior, inform your line manager in case any contact tracing is required.
  • Please keep your line manager apprised of the guidance you have been given (i.e. how long you will be off, and when you can return)
  • When you return to work please inform the HR Absence Hub.


What do I do if my household contact is Symptomatic or has tested Positive?
  • Staff members can still come to work providing they:
    • Are fully vaccinated
    • Are symptom free and Test with LFD before attending work and return a negative result for 10 days from the first day the household member had symptoms or tested positive.
  • If you become unwell you will need a PCR test – please follow guidance for symptomatic testing
    • If you have CORE symptoms you should self-isolate while you wait for your result.


What do I do if my result is Negative?
  • You will be informed of your result by email or text.
  • If you have classical symptoms (i.e. fever, cough or loss of smell), regardless of your result, you should not return to work until these have resolved. Even if the COVID-19 test is negative, you might have another cause of your symptoms which precludes you from working. OH will contact you to discuss whether it is safe to return to work or whether you need another test.
  • If your symptoms were less classical (eg sore throat, runny nose), then you can continue to work IF you feel well enough & you haven’t been in contact with a known COVID case.
  • You can email Occupational Health rde-tr.occhealthcovid@nhs.net to request a telephone consult if you would like to.
  • Speak to your line manager to agree a return date.


What do I do if my household contact tests Negative? (May no longer be applicable – Please note Free NHS testing in England has ceased, Trust testing will only be performed in exceptional circumstances)
    • You can return to work immediately if you are asymptomatic.
    • Speak to your line manager to agree return date.


Do you share my information & results with anyone?
    • By submitting a sample with a request form you consent for your test information and results to be shared with Occupational Health, Divisional Hub, your line manager and the HR Absence Hub.
    • Information about you and about your sample will be recorded and kept to help process your sample to get a result. Your personal data will be retained on the Staff Absence Database, and the hospital Electronic Paper Record System (MyCare), in accordance with trust guidelines. For more information please see the Information Governance pages on the HUB: https://hub.exe.nhs.uk/a-z/information-governance/
    • Your personal information will be retained on the Occupational Health Records system. However, personal information about your Household contact will not be retained. The staff privacy notice is on https://www.rdehospital.nhs.uk/services/occupational-health/
    • Anonymised data from your test may be reported within the Trust and also collected and shared with NHS England and government Public Health agencies in order to help understand the spread of the virus.
    • We are required by law under the ‘Health Protection (Notification) Regulations (2010)’  to notify the UKHSA of any positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR results:
      • Under these regulations COVID-19 is a notifiable disease and SARS-COV-2 is a notifiable causative agent


Where can I find my NHS number?
  • In most documents or letters sent to you by the NHS, such as your: Prescriptions; Test results; Hospital Referral letters / Appointment letters
  • By logging in to the NHS App (you’ll need to register if you have not used it before.) In order to register you will need to provide ID and there is a lag time to being accepted on the App so be prepared to wait.
  • Through some GP online services or you can call your GP surgery and ask them what your NHS number is. You may need to prove your identity over the phone or visit your GP surgery with proof of identity.
  • NHS Number Online Portal you will need to input your name, date of birth and postcode as registered with your GP Surgery. Once input you can choose to receive an email, text or letter to confirm your NHS number, texts usually arrive within 5 minutes.


Please help us to protect our staff:

If you have core symptoms you need to behave like you may have COVID-19 until you receive your result.

KEEP your distance from others

DO NOT enter any buildings
DO NOT stand outside the entrance to the building whilst taking your swab
DO NOT drop any litter from the test kits on the ground – use the bin provided
DO NOT ask for a pen – you will need to bring your own

If you don’t provide an NHS No. and NHS email on the from your swab WILL NOT be processed.

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