Doctor in PPE swabbing a patient during a test

Tests proven accurate enough for community use

Extensive clinical evaluation from Public Health England (PHE) and the University of Oxford has demonstrated lateral flow tests – rapid turnaround tests which can process Covid-19 samples on site without laboratory equipment – are accurate and sensitive enough to be used in the community, including for asymptomatic people.

Most lateral flow tests generate results in under half an hour and are being piloted across England, as part of the Government’s strategy for testing the effectiveness of this new technology. Should these pilots prove successful, they will be pushed out more widely.

For example, the lateral flow tests being deployed in Liverpool have shown to have over 99.6% specificity.

PHE Porton Down and the University of Oxford tested newly-deployed tests in multiple settings, with their findings showing the tests to be highly reliable, sensitive and accurate.

Prior to commencing these pilots, DHSC commissioned independent research to gain further information on the specificity and sensitivity of the tests in different settings including hospitals, schools, and universities

The swabbing and processing of these tests must currently be conducted at a dedicated testing site by trained personnel.

The devices are designed to be intuitive and require minimal training to operate, and PHE and the University of Oxford are now looking at how this test could be self-administered.

Health Minister Lord Bethell said: “We are absolutely committed to using the latest testing technology to make asymptomatic testing available in more areas.

“It is right we’ve taken a dual-track approach to evaluating this technology – by piloting them in the field so we can understand how to best to make these tests available, and by getting our world-leading academics and clinicians to undertake rigorous evaluation of their ability to detect the virus.

“I’m delighted that both are already demonstrating that lateral flow tests can be the reliable, highly sensitive technology we need to help get this virus under control, and return to as close to normality as possible.”

Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser, NHS Test and Trace, added: “These tests are proving to be accurate and reliable. And, importantly they’re able to detect Covid-19 in people without symptoms who could unknowingly be passing the virus onto others.

“Our evaluation work and the ongoing pilots are helping us to understand how lateral flow tests work in the field and how we may use them to help stop the spread of the virus.

“We are confident that these new tests, which have been rigorously evaluated, will make a real difference in how we protect people from this disease and help break chains of transmission.”

NHE Sept/Oct 21

NHE Sept/Oct 21

Improving care for long-term conditions

Join us in our September/October edition of National Health Executive, as we explore a range of topics impacting and improving the care that we can deliver to patients, the facilities within which we deliver them, and the opportunities in the digital space to accent and evolve our care capabilities


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National Health Executive Presents

NHE365 Virtual Festival: Digital Healthcare

The integration of new technology, such as using virtual outpatient appointments instead of face-to-face reviews of patients in the hospital. Adapting the ways in which our NHS workers serve people has been critical in continuing to provide high-quality treatment, a positive patient experience and preventing Covid-19 transmission during the pandemic. Our healthcare sector has the potential to transform the way we continue to provide essential services while also improving patient care. But how easy is the integration of these innovations into routine NHS practice?

On the 28th of October, at the NHE365 Virtual Hospitals & Technology Enabled Care online event, we will be discussing patient flow and experience, reducing waiting times, reducing the patient backlog and increasing technology adoption. Will you be attending? 

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