Government offers COVID-19 antibody test to health and social care staff

Covid TEST

A new COVID-19 antibody testing programme launches this week as the government faces further criticism of its handling of the care home crisis.

All NHS and care staff in England are being offered an antibody test with patients and care residents also eligible at their clinician’s request.

The government said highly accurate laboratory based antibody tests will be used to tell whether someone has already had the virus, to provide accurate data about the antibodies they have developed in response.

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The information will help clinicians and scientists to better understand the prevalence of the virus in different regions across the country and will inform a Public Health England (PHE) study called SIREN which is seeking to find whether antibodies indicate immunity to COVID-19.

The launch of the study came as the BBC revealed 30 out of 102 care providers contacted said none of their staff had been tested, down from 75 who said so in April.

Sam, CEO of MHA, has, meanwhile, has voiced his outrage after the head of the government’s testing programme said that any decision on repeat testing of care homes would be “premature”.

Findings from a two-week, whole home testing programme carried out by the not for profit operator carried out this month revealed that at least one person who tested positive in each of its settings was asymptomatic.

Sam said: “For the head of the UK government’s COVID-19 testing programme to say any decisions would be ‘premature’ and that their policy remains that repeat testing can only happen upon the presentation of symptoms or in a ‘targeted’ way, instead of routinely, is outrageous in the face of the evidence that is now available. One single asymptomatic staff member or resident through no fault of their own can cost lives. It is that simple.

“The government must not squander this opportunity to finally demonstrate to our care workers, our residents living in care homes and to their families that it is not neglecting the social care sector during this crisis.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Throughout this unprecedented global outbreak we have been working tirelessly with the care sector to stop the spread of the virus and save lives.

“We have based all our decisions on the best scientific and clinical advice – as a result nearly two thirds of care homes have had no outbreak at all.

“Our aim is to make it as easy, fast and simple as possible for anybody who needs to get a test to do so and by significantly increasing testing capacity we can now test all care workers and residents, regardless of symptoms.”


Tags : CoronavirusDHSC

The author Lee Peart


    1. Hi,
      This seems to be just the Coronavirus test for if you have it at the time. What about the antibody test for if you have already had it?
      Thanks Claire

    2. We have been told we may not get the antibody test if we have had no symptoms,we all need testing to find out if we have already had Corona virus, everyone and every care home staff want to be tested, government keep saying we can be tested and then change the rules

    3. I’m a senior care work who has had covid19 in March but wasn’t tested as testing wasn’t open to our sector then only nhs. since March i have had lung scans as I am struggling with breathing have been put on inhalers and now have issues with my kidney! Tired all the time become very lite headed headache ect. I was perfectly well before covid19! Although am certain I had it, as as I had every symptom I past it to people that tested positive i would still like an antibody text.

  1. Hi i work in a care home and im still recovering from a virus i had in March. I believe strongly was covid. I was not offered a test then. Can i have an antibody test now.

    1. Hi
      I’m a Care Worker who supports someone in their own home. Would I have to arrange an antibody test through my employer or my Doctor. It’s not quite clear.

  2. I work kn care home, we have had no covid, but we have been told we have to have test, k have no symptoms, can k refuse to have ig done, they are testing all staff

      1. Hi Lee,

        The link is only providing information about the antibody test such as:
        About antibody tests
        Types of antibody tests
        What getting an antibody test will tell you
        Who is eligible for an antibody test

        However, it doesn’t give you an option/link to follow/click so you can actually apply for the antibody tests.

        Our local Council the department in charge with Covi-19 tests have no information about antibody tests available, so far.
        If you know more, please let us know.
        Many thanks

        1. This is the swab test link, the antibody test is not yet available so far as I am aware. When it is Primary care will probably take the lead.

      2. Hi, I’m a private Homecare provider working solo.. So how do I get an antibody test, as I have a client with cancer and so didn’t take on any new clients all through this since beginning, even though had people asking for help. I rang NHS England and said gut feeling is to limit risks to existing clients and my family. They agreed with me. I would like to know if had it though as was poorly back in February before it came out.

  3. This is the link to the Covid 19 test NOT the antibody test. I am a registered Manager of a care home and to my knowledge there is no portal to apply for the antibody tests for all staff and residents. Although our local community hospital has had all staff and patients screens for antibodies. When will the portal be available to us??!!

      1. Hi Melissa,
        Antibody testing is being phased in and agreed with local leaders. The government is unable to give an exact date for when it will launch at this point. More details on how this will work for care workers will be confirmed soon. Please keep an eye on our website for further updates.

  4. Is there a like for our care home manager to arrange an antibody test for us as she has not had one and says she is wait to be sent the link thank you

    1. Hi Jackie
      Antibody testing is being phased in and agreed with local leaders. The government is unable to give an exact date for when it will launch at this point. More details on how this will work for care workers will be confirmed soon. Please keep an eye on our website for further updates.

  5. The level of misinformation for us in health and social care throughout this pandemic has been appalling. The inaccurate information from central government has been made worse by very poor reporting and spreading of dare i say ‘fake news’ (I hate that term. Unfortunately Lee Peart .you are as guilty as anybody.Several times in these comments you have intimated that us as care home managers can book staff for antibody testing and provided links that show no such thing as well as making comments such as ‘Your employer should be able to arrange a test for you.’ and ‘This is the link to the antibody test which must be done through your care home manager.’. The reality is we as care home managers are totally in the dark and you are no better, in fact you are a hindrance because you are spreading misinformation from a position where people may believe you know something. Please refrain from any more stories or comments until you know the facts. This is not helping us

    1. Hi Matt,
      Thank you for your feedback. I spoke with the DHSC on this matter yesterday and have updated the comments section on this article with the latest information provided by them. It appears there has been some delay in rolling out this programme. My apologies for the earlier confusion.

  6. Hi i work in supported living and would like to have the anti-body test done because i believe myself and my husband have had it in January ,i have asked my employer but they have no information ,can you help please.

    1. Hi Rebecca,
      The latest government statement is that antibody testing is being rolled out in a phased way across English regions for care staff. It adds that care homes are being contacted about an at-home antibody testing service which is also being rolled out in a phased way as capacity is increased. I hope this is helpful.

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