Tests for Covid-19

Access to Covid-19 Testing

We are aware that there have been some significant problems with access to COVID-19 testing. You will have seen on the news that this is not unique to Devon but none the less is of significant concern. Devon County Council and Public Health England (PHE) have escalated this regionally and nationally, but it is unlikely we will see a rapid improvement.

The below are the steps, in order, that should be followed to secure a test:

  • Individuals should only get tested if they have symptoms of coronavirus
  • Parents or carers of children attending and early years or childcare provision or setting staff with symptoms of coronavirus should book a test as normal via the government website or by calling 119
  • If they are unable to book a local testing slot, then:

Individuals should complete the appropriate forms by following the links below:

Confirmation of a test booking should include a QR code so please do not visit a test centre unless you have been sent a QR code as you may be refused entry.

As children need their parents to conduct the test for them (or help them do it themselves) it is important that when attending a test centre, they enter the self-test lane. Failure to do this may result in the test not being available.

We are tracking issues with accessing tests so please feel free to let us know if you have a family who after trying the above have still not managed to secure a test or have been given contradictory advice.

Early Years and Childcare providers only need to send home bubbles if there has been a confirmed case, or you have been advised to by PHE, even if there has been a delay in getting tested or getting the test result back.

Links to the previously circulated flow chart and how to contact PHE as well as a check list have been included for your ease of reference.

Clarification on how employers can refer staff for testing

Employers can refer essential workers (Education and childcare workers are included in the government’s list of essential workers) for testing if they are self-isolating because either they or member(s) of their household have coronavirus symptoms.

They can do this by uploading the names and contact details of self-isolating essential workers to the secure employer referral portal. Referred essential workers will then receive a text message with a unique invitation code to book a test for themselves (if symptomatic) or their symptomatic household member(s) at a regional testing site.

To get a login to the employer referral portal, employers of essential workers should email portalservicedesk@dhsc.gov.uk  with the following information:

  • organisation name
  • nature of the organisation’s business
  • region
  • names (where possible) and email addresses of the 2 users who will load essential worker contact details

Once employer details have been verified, 2 login credentials will be provided for the employer referral portal.

Seeking advice on confirmed cases

A new advice service will be opened from 08.00am on 17 September to provide educational settings with advice on managing single confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Public Health England (PHE) recognise that providers have had some difficulties getting through to PHE’s local Health Protection Teams for advice on managing single positive cases in educational settings. To resolve this problem, they have been working with DfE and the NHS Business Services Authority to introduce a new service.  From Thursday 17 September, there will be a new advice line available to nurseries, schools and colleges who have been informed of a confirmed case(s) of coronavirus in their setting (i.e. a pupil or staff member testing positive).

Instead of calling local health protection teams when there is a confirmed case, you are now asked to call the DfE’s helpline on 0800 046 8687 and select the option for advice following confirmation of a positive case. The line will be open Monday to Friday from 8.00am to 6.00pm, and 10.00am to 4.00pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Callers will be put through to a team of advisors who will work through a risk assessment to identify close contacts and advise the setting what actions are required. The script has been developed by PHE so fully reflects our guidance and advice. Usually, full closure of the setting will not be necessary, but some individuals may need to self-isolate if they have had close contact with the confirmed case. This new process will free up capacity of PHE’s local health protection teams to deal with more complex cases such as special and boarding schools or outbreaks. Advisors will be responsible for escalating these cases as necessary following a triaging of each providers circumstances during the call.

The DfE helpline also remains available for all other queries about coronavirus on 0800 046 8687.

If a child tests positive for the coronavirus please refer to the latest guidance.