The UK is gradually increasing its daily capacity to test for coronavirus. The government has announced its plan to substantially increase the rate of testing from around 10,000 per day at the beginning of April to 100,000 per day by the end of the month. Government has responded to calls from across the NHS to prioritise testing of NHS staff within these efforts, removing the limit on the proportion of tests which can be used on staff. Trusts are now able to make local decisions on who to test, while work is also ongoing nationally to increase the availability of testing equipment and facilities through a new partnership with industry and universities:
While trusts across the country now have freedom to ramp up their testing of staff, there are significant constraints on swabs, reagents and the test kits that are required to test at scale.
In some places, this is severely limiting the ability of trusts to complete the number of tests they would otherwise have the capacity for. In other areas, trusts have made progress, including at Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust where 1,000 staff were tested within three days, with early results enabling 157 staff in critical roles to return to work and relieve pressure on their teams.