Publication date: June 2020
In response to NHSE’s recent undertaking for staff and patients to have access to antibody testing, local CCGs will be inviting practices to an provide antibody testing for primary care staff including dental, pharmacy and opticians, as well as GP staff and their patients. This is not a core service and is therefore not mandatory for practices to deliver. A service specification together with clear funding will be issued to practices shortly. The LMC have provided comments with respect to the service specification and we would advise practices who may wish to deliver this service to consider the following:
• The specification does not limit the scope and frequency of testing and extends to practice patient population. Some practices may have difficulty providing resources to respond to this level of demand.
• Practices may also be invited to test staff and patients of other practices who decline to be commissioned for this service. It is also possible that CCGs may commission this service through another provider to deliver a local solution.
• NHS Resolution have confirmed that where you are appropriately trained and competent to undertake this activity, and you are not covered for this activity under your existing indemnity/insurance arrangements, you will be indemnified under the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Coronavirus (CNSC). More information is available here.
• There will be a significant component of practice time required for briefing and counselling post-test. This should be reflected in the funding rate you accept.
• There have been recent reports of actuarial impact of insurance and finance applications which should be made clear before consenting to a test. The BMA have provided this information.
• The communication and recording of results process requires further detail. It the LMCs understanding that a record of the tests will not be placed on the GP patient record but may be recorded on the occupational health record for staff members.
• The Daily Mail and Pulse have reported that NHS England has said that any patient can ask their GP for antibody test when having a blood test for another reason. In response to this GPC said there was no obligation to offer antibody testing and that this could increase inappropriate attendance at surgeries. GPs would use their clinical judgement to decide whether to offer patients COVID-19 antibody tests. The Pulse article can be found here (registration required).
The LMC will provide any further updates on our COVID web page.