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NHS test kit service

We are proud to be playing this key role in the fight against coronavirus

A test image

The Government announced on Friday that Royal Mail will be a key partner in the delivery and return of coronavirus tests to NHS and social care frontline staff.

NHS staff who are self-isolating at home will be able to do an antigen test to see if they have the coronavirus, and then return their sample for testing at a central testing lab.

This is really important as staff who don’t have the Covid-19 virus will be able to return to work to relieve the pressure on our NHS. Other initiatives under the same Government drive include testing facilities currently being rolled out by Boots.

The test kits will be jointly distributed by Royal Mail (Tracked 24) and Amazon Logistics. We will handle all the returns to the initial testing lab in Northern Ireland via Tracked 24 Returns.

These are vital items and as such, are to be treated as a highest priority.We are proud to be playing this key role in the fight against coronavirus. We welcome the support of CWU.

How the process will work:

  • The test kits will be sent out via an Amazon depot in Darlington and then jointly distributed through their network and Royal Mail (Tracked 24).
  • At first, the kit will return to a central laboratory in Northern Ireland via Royal Mail Tracked 24 Returns. Soon after, two more locations on the UK mainland will be confirmed.
  • NHS workers will post their sample into one of 13,000 priority postboxes - Monday to Friday only. Recipients of the test kits have been informed to only post returns back Monday to Friday, however, if a test kit Return is identified in collections during the weekend please continue to process as per the specification Mon to Friday so the item can be delivered to the laboratory asap.
  • The samples have a 48-hour life span, so it is critical that they are collected and moved through our network at pace.

What is important is that we treat these items as the priority and take care when handling them to not damage the kits and protect our people.

The health of our colleagues is our first priority and we have worked in partnership with the Chief Medical Officer to ensure that the process is safe for our colleagues.

There will be clear instructions in the testing kit explaining to people how to package their sample safely to prevent any cross-contamination. The sample will be placed into a corrugated cardboard box and then into a plastic envelope. All packaging complies to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

NHS workers will be required to wash their hands immediately before and after sample collection, and again before packaging. They should also wipe the external packaging with a disinfectant wipe.

We are adding an extra precautionary step to ensure we are doing everything we can do keep our people safe throughout the handling of these items. Colleagues collecting from postboxes will be issued with plastic bags so that they don’t have to touch the item when they identify and remove them from postboxes.

We recognise that the provision of PPE is essential. Supplies are coming through and these are being distributed to all units.