Testing is an essential part of the national strategy to combat COVID-19, both to track the spread of the virus in the community and to enable the health service to deliver care safely to all who require it. After a difficult start where testing capacity for NHS services was limited, trusts have responded strongly and the majority are currently meeting government guidance for the testing required of them. However, it is clear that more is needed, and our survey shows that only a third of trust leaders are confident in the government’s plans for testing in the next one to three months.

Despite recent progress in some areas, turnaround speed of test results is a key issue that many trusts would like to see further improved. If resources were available, the majority of trusts would like to see more testing of those identified to have had close contact with positive cases, but with less than one in five trust leaders confident in the national test and trace programme there is some way to go.

Trusts are ready and willing to take on a greater role in co-ordinating testing locally, alongside local partners, and continue to seek ways to be at the forefront of the response to the next phase of the pandemic. If trusts are to be able to deliver the required acceleration of a return to near-normal levels of non-COVID health services, they need to be confident that a comprehensive and responsive national testing strategy will both enable and support their efforts locally.