Employers can now refer essential workers for coronavirus tests

The testing hub at Chessington World of Adventures. Photo: Peter MacDiarmid/Shutterstock

Employers of essential workers in England who are self-isolating with symptoms of coronavirus can refer them for Covid-19 testing, meaning they can return to work if they test negative. Staff can also book tests directly. 

As the government redoubles its efforts to reach its target of 100,000 tests per day by the end of April, essential workers in England – including NHS and care staff, teachers, hospital cleaners, public servants, the emergency services, supermarket workers, delivery drivers and other infrastructure staff – as well as members of their households who are showing symptoms of coronavirus, will now be able to get tested, the government has announced.

How to refer essential workers

Employers of essential workers should email portalservicedesk@dhsc.gov.uk with two email addresses that will be used to log in and upload essential worker contact details. Once employer details have been verified, login credentials will be issued for the employer portal for Covid-19 testing.

Tests can be booked online. Employers can now register by email and refer self-isolating staff online (see instructions right) or employees can book a test directly for themselves or members of their household who are experiencing symptoms.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said in yesterday’s daily briefing: “We have already prioritised testing for patients and health and social care workers and other key workers. Today I can go further.

“We are making it easier, faster and simpler for any essential worker in England who needs a test to get a test. From today, employers of essential workers will be able to go on gov.uk to get a test for any of their staff who need a test. And from tomorrow, any essential workers who need a test will be able to book an appointment on gov.uk themselves directly.

“This all applies for people in essential workers’ households who need a test too. It’s all part of getting Britain back on her feet.”

Essential workers using the new portal will receive a same-day text or email inviting them to either book an appointment at one of around 30 drive-through testing sites across the country, or receive a home-testing kit.

Drive-through coronavirus test results will arrive by text within 48 hours, while home-test results will take 72 hours. The Department for Health and Social Care said the aim was for most people not to have to drive for more than 45 minutes to reach a regional testing site.

Additional testing methods being rolled-out included:

  • A network of new mobile testing units, designed by army engineers, will travel the country to reach care homes, police stations, prisons and other sites where there is demand. These can be set up within 20 minutes.
  • A delivery service for home-testing kits, designed with partners including Royal Mail and Amazon, will be available from today, although initial availability will be limited. When Personnel Today checked at 8:35am today (24 April), home-testing kits had run out.
  • The government is also sending “satellite” test kits directly to care homes across England to enable testing of symptomatic residents.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Yesterday we urged the government to do more testing and we have consistently questioned why ministers were not moving to a test and trace strategy. It is welcome ministers now recognise the importance of testing and tracing.

“It is crucial that greater numbers of critical workers such as care staff are now able to access testing. We will continue to hold the government to account for the promise it has made of 100,000 tests a day by the end of the month.”

The Welsh government has also expanded testing to key workers and Northern Ireland has extended its testing to include frontline workers delivering key medical, utility and food supplies. Scotland has yet to announce anything similar.

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3 Responses to Employers can now refer essential workers for coronavirus tests

  1. Avatar
    David Tomlinson 24 Apr 2020 at 8:41 am #

    “From yesterday, the health secretary said employers would be able to register and refer self-isolating staff – although Personnel Today is unable to find out how”

    I have also been looking and I can’t find out how employers register either.

    Very frustrating!

    • Rob Moss
      Rob Moss 24 Apr 2020 at 9:45 am #

      Thanks for your comment David. The Department of Health and Social Care has now been in touch with instructions, which we have incorporated into the story above…

  2. Avatar
    Mandy Baker 12 May 2020 at 2:42 pm #

    I registered to use the portal over 2 weeks ago. The log-in they sent didn’t work and I have been waiting for over a week for someone, anyone to respond. Chased it, nothing. Can’t see any other contact details about how to progress it.

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