Health Business 22.01

Is free access to Covid-19 tests about to stop?

Nearly eight in 10 NHS leaders want the public to continue to have free access to Covid-19 tests, with nine in 10 wanting free access for key workers to continue.

This is according to a new poll from the NHS Confederation, which is calling on the government to take a cautious and evidence-based approach to exiting the pandemic so that the NHS can continue to meet the full healthcare needs of the population.

The government’s ‘Living with Covid-19’ strategy is expected to bring an end to free lateral flow tests for millions of people, as well as an end to mandatory self-isolation for anyone with a positive result from as early as next month. This is as both hospital admissions and deaths linked to the virus continue to fall nationally, thanks in large part to the success of the vaccine roll out.

However, nearly eight in ten of the more than 300 senior NHS leaders responding to the poll strongly disagreed or disagreed with the plan to stop free access to Covid-19 tests for the public, with 94 per cent feeling the same about NHS staff and other key workers. 

There is no doubt that returning to normality must continue to be assessed and progressed, but concerns from within our NHS system should be heard before rash decisions are made.

Michael Lyons, editor