Changes to Covid-19 testing will come into effect on 1 April 2023, to ensure testing continues to focus on those at highest risk, enables appropriate clinical treatment and supports the management of outbreaks in high-risk settings including health and social care.
The changes come over a year after the nation begun the transition to living with Covid-19. Throughout the pandemic the Government has prioritised protecting the most vulnerable and over the past year, Covid-19 testing has gradually been scaled back as the severity and impact of Covid-19 on the NHS reduced.
Testing in England can now be further aligned with the management of other common respiratory infections thanks to the ongoing success of the vaccination programme, increased access to therapeutic treatments and high immunity amongst the population.
Summary of the testing changes
As of 1 April 2023, routine testing will end for the following groups and settings:
- Routine asymptomatic testing, including testing on admission, will now end across all health and social care settings including hospitals and care homes. The majority of this testing has already been paused since August 2022 (see Gov.uk - Regular asymptomatic testing paused in additional setting)
- Routine symptomatic testing of staff and residents in care settings will end. Routine symptomatic testing will also end in other settings including prisons and places of detention, homelessness and refuge settings and asylum settings;
- All PCR testing outside NHS settings will end.
In addition, testing will continue for the following groups, using LFD tests:
- People in the community and residents in care or other high-risk settings, if they have symptoms and are eligible for Covid-19 treatment, to enable rapid access to treatment;
- Some NHS staff with symptoms working on inpatient wards with severely immunosuppressed patients;
- Staff with symptoms who work in hospices;
- All patients being discharged from hospitals into care settings;
- Outbreak testing in the NHS, care settings, hospices, including prisons and places of detention, homelessness and refuge settings and asylum settings;
- Some hospital patients with symptoms, where needed to inform decisions such as ward transfers.
PCR testing will continue to be used by the NHS for diagnosis where needed for patients before accessing Covid-19 treatment or for specific personal clinically directed care.
Further information has been published in a Written Ministerial Statement, made this afternoon by Maria Caulfield MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care.
A more detailed summary of these testing changes is also available and further guidance about Covid-19 testing in these settings will be published before 1 April (see Gov.uk - Covid-19: testing from 1 April 2023).
Capacity will also be retained to ensure testing can be scaled up swiftly if a Covid-19 wave, or a new variant, results in significantly increased pressure on the NHS.
In addition, the NHS Covid-19 app, which alerts close contacts of a positive case and provides the latest health advice about the virus, will close on 27 April 2023 and current users will be notified of this through the app.
The full press notice announcing these changes is copied below and will also be available on Gov.uk shortly.
A reminder that UKHSA has published a series of guidance on COVID-19 outlining the actions we can all take to help reduce the risk of catching COVID-19 and passing it on to others: