Community pharmacy teams to offer free Covid-19 test kits

Anil Sharma (right) with Lucy Frazer MP outside Haddenham Pharmacy

Anil Sharma (right) with Lucy Frazer MP outside Haddenham Pharmacy on Station Road. - Credit: ARCHANT

Community pharmacy teams across Ely and East Cambridgeshire have started to offer free Covid-19 test kits.

The ‘pharmacy collect’ service will make lateral flow devices available to people without symptoms free of charge from local NHS pharmacies.

It comes after NHS Test and Trace research found that people prefer to access testing close to home.

The consumer healthcare association, Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB), also found that since the start of the pandemic, almost one in three people ​are now more likely to visit a pharmacy for advice before seeking help elsewhere.

Anil Sharma, pharmacist at Haddenham Pharmacy, said: “There is so much that pharmacists and their teams can do to help our communities as Covid-19 restrictions are eased.

"Community pharmacies are the most accessible healthcare locations; we offer convenient access to medicines and a range of health services without the need for an appointment.

"This will be of particular value in this service, where we can really help those who may not be able to travel far to access these tests. 

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"Pharmacy hasn’t stopped during the pandemic: community pharmacies in England continue to have 600,000 informal healthcare consultations a week. 

"This shows that patients value the convenience of being able to choose to get health services from their local pharmacy.”

The test distribution service from pharmacies, along with other locations, sits under NHS Test and Trace and forms part of the Government’s Covid-19 roadmap plan. 

Anyone can request a box of test kits from the pharmacy counter for regular testing at home or elsewhere.

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Easter Monday that everyone in England would be given access to two free coronavirus tests a week.

It is hoped that widening the offer of tests will help to identify Covid-positive cases in the community and break the chain of transmission, avoiding the need for further lockdowns.

Talking about the impact of Covid-19 on pharmacies, Mr Sharma said last month: "COVID-19 has underlined the key role pharmacies have as part of the NHS family.

"Pharmacists have worked closely with other professionals, such as doctors and nurses, to provide the best possible care as part of the local healthcare team.

"The pandemic has also shown the importance of having a vibrant network of pharmacies operating close to where people live, work and shop.

"How on earth would the NHS have coped with the pressure otherwise?"

Use the NHS Test and Trace Site Finder map to locate participating pharmacies.