The clinical guidance on COVID-19 testing and infection control principles (IPC) has been updated and will be effective from Tuesday 9 May 2023.

The ongoing success of the vaccination programme, increased access to treatments and high immunity amongst the population, has allowed the government to scale back COVID-19 testing in England.

From spring 2023 onwards, testing will be provided to individuals and in settings at highest risk from COVID-19, whilst continuing to support diagnosis for care and access to treatments.

People with symptoms should continue lateral flow device (LFD) testing, and if positive they should not attend our sites for at least five days.

Trust guidance on COVID-19 testing and infection control principles has been updated accordingly, and should be followed along with the appropriate IPC measures detailed in trust IPC guidance and based on the IPC Manual for England.

Main changes in this guidance include:

  • Pause in requirement for members of staff, patients and visitors to wear face masks except as part of standard, transmission-based, or protective isolation precautions.
  • Pause in asymptomatic patient weekly testing on high risk wards or areas.
  • Pause in asymptomatic patient elective pathway (day case and overnight) and transfer of care admission testing in all settings (including maternity, out-patient dialysis, and oncology) except for admission or transfer to designated high risk inpatient areas.
  • Pause in testing for release from isolation for patients in acute settings with no severe immunosuppression, and all patients in non-acute settings.
  • Pause in asymptomatic staff twice weekly LFD testing on high risk wards/areas.
  • Reduction in isolation of contacts to seven days.
  • Pause in requirement for positive staff to have return to work testing.

Face masks

Staff should continue to wear face masks as part of personal protective equipment (PPE) required for standard infection control precautions (SIPCs), transmission-based precautions (TBPs), and protective isolation.

Patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should where a face mask if this is tolerated and safe, except when alone in a single room. ​​

From the time of implementation of these guidelines it will no longer be mandatory for members of staff, patients and visitors to wear a face mask in  public, non-clinical, or clinical areas across the trust, except when specifically indicated, as described above. ​

Services for high risk patient groups may agree local dates for implementation. ​

Individuals may continue to wear face masks as a personal preference.​

Increased mask wearing may be advised if required.