NPN | Your Pharmacy Can Help: Covid-19 Lateral Flow Tests

Lateral flow antigen tests allow the detection of people with high levels of the COVID-19 virus, which makes them an effective tool in the identification of people who are most likely to transmit the virus - even if they aren’t showing symptoms. With up to a third of infected individuals not displaying symptoms, asymptomatic testing has become an essential part of the nation’s fight against COVID-19.

At the end of March, the Pharmacy Collect service was added to the NHS Community Pharmacy framework. Since then, pharmacies have been improving access to COVID-19 testing by making lateral flow device test kits readily available at community pharmacies. These tests have helped to identify COVID-positive cases in the community, breaking the chain of transmission.

From October, amendments to the services were made to support the need for traceability of the test kits and to assist NHS Test and Trace in identifying COVID-positive cases in the community. These changes included a reduction in the number of packs of test kits pharmacies are able to supply (from four kits to two per transaction), and the introduction of collect codes.

How to get a Rapid Lateral Flow Test from your Local Pharmacy

You can pick up rapid lateral flow test packs from a pharmacy after getting a collect code. Before you go to the pharmacy, use this service to get your collect code by email or text, which you will need to show when you collect your test packs. You can also get a collect code by calling 119 at any time between the hours of 7am and 11pm.

Once you arrive at the pharmacy, someone will make a note of your code and give you the tests, which you can take home with you to do. There are different types of lateral flow tests, and even if you’ve done one in the past, the test you pick up might be different. Ensure you read the instructions that came with your test kit before you take the test, as they have different waiting times, and the tests will require either a:

  • Throat and nose swab

  • Nose swab only

If you’re doing the test at home, try not to eat, drink, smoke or vape 30 minutes before doing the test, as this may affect the results of some tests. Clean the surface you’re putting the test on, and read the instructions carefully. More advice on how to correctly take the Lateral Flow Test are included in the pack.

Once you’ve done the test, you should report your test result. Advice on how to report your result will be shared with you when you receive your collect code.

If you’re visiting a pharmacy, please wear a face covering and do not come into the store if you or anyone in your household have symptoms of COVID-19. Instead, follow the latest Government guidance and if you do have symptoms, you can get a free NHS test.