NHS bosses call for free COVID-19 tests and isolation to remain

pharmafile | February 18, 2022 | News story | Medical Communications  

NHS bosses have called for free COVID-19 testing to remain, in spite of speculation that this could be scrapped. Boris Johnson is expected to announce new relaxations to COVID-19 rules in England on Monday, and this could include scrapping PCR test centres and free lateral flow tests, as part of a living “living with COVID-19” strategy.

The government has spent a great deal of funding on testing throughout the pandemic. Experts believe that it could be used only in hospitals and care settings, or to deal with major outbreaks.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said: “We are looking at how we learn to live with COVID-19. And that does mean the protections we’ve enjoyed over the last few months, that they all should be reviewed.”

“So we’re looking at the very latest data and next week we’ll have more to say about it.”

Matthew Taylor, CEO of the confederation, said, “Hospital admissions and deaths linked to coronavirus continue to fall nationally and this is allowing the NHS to bring back many routine services that it was asked to de-prioritise during the peaks of the pandemic, including some non-urgent elective procedures. With the success of the vaccine and new COVID-19 treatments, this offers real hope as we learn to live with the virus.

But the government cannot wave a magic wand and pretend the threat has disappeared entirely.”

Professor Dame Helen Stokes-Lampard, who chairs the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, commented: “We do have to learn to live safely with COVID-19 in the medium term. That does not mean pretending the threat to our health, and in some cases life, simply no longer exists,” she said. “We should take a more gradual, phased approach to relaxing the rules and carefully watch what happens to the rates of infection – particularly in healthcare settings or other environments where people are particularly at risk.”

Lina Adams

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