Pharmacies providing symptom-free community testing across all of Sussex

Last week we were trialling a Sussex wide symptom-free Community Testing Programme which aims to rapidly identify people who have Covid-19 but have no symptoms who could be passing it on to others without knowing.

Working together with East Sussex County Council, West Sussex County Council and Brighton & Hove City Council we are offering rapid lateral flow Covid tests at participating community pharmacies.

These tests are for everyone who lives or works in Sussex who cannot work from home and who does not have access to a symptom-free test through other routes.

More about the pilot

Before the symptom-free Community Testing Programme is opened out more widely across Sussex this week, we have been piloting the programme with staff from the three councils and those at East and West Fire Services who can’t work from home. Giving them the opportunity to get tested early helped us trial the booking system and the way the testing process is managed.

Appointments were made available at any participating pharmacies across Sussex, so people can get tested wherever’s most convenient for them – close to where they live or work. Booking appointments has been reported to be easy through a bespoke online booking system or by telephoning a dedicated number which is staffed by the councils.

More appointments at more locations will come into the programme as more pharmacies go-live.

Testing is quick and easy

The testing process takes around 10 minutes. Those being tested will need to take a swab of their nose, and this will be analysed by a member of the pharmacy staff on-site.

Results are sent to person being tested by NHS Test and Trace through a smart phone app or email within 30 minutes in most cases.

It’s recommended that two tests a week are taken, three days apart.

Great news for community pharmacy in Sussex

The total value of this locally commissioned service is yet to be determined (as it depends on uptake). We have also  benefited from a new way of working that could be used more often if we have to work with a common purpose across the Sussex geography.

Julia Powell, CEO, said it had been a positive experience working pan-Sussex with the councils

Commenting on the first-ever pan-Sussex pharmacy project Julia Powell, chief executive said:

“Community pharmacy has had a critical and central role at the heart of communities throughout the pandemic, and we are delighted that the three top-tier councils have acknowledged a central role for the sector going forwards in their efforts to stop the spread of the virus and get it under control.

We are delighted to report that we have thoroughly enjoyed the process and working with a common purpose across all three geographies with council colleagues.

“The biggest challenge was moving at pace” she added.

More information

  • Last month Surrey County Council introduced lateral flow testing at three test sites in Woking, Spelthorne and Epsom and Ewell with further sites and selected community pharmacies to follow later in the month. Read more
  • Update 2 July: yesterday on 1 July the Sussex contracts were extended by nine moths to the end of March 2022
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