Post Office Ltd – Coronavirus / Covid-19 – ‘LFD’ Rapid Workforce Testing Programme:
Further to LTBs 102, 183, 188, 190 and 197/21 reporting on the agreed introduction of Workforce Covid-19/Coronavirus testing in Royal Mail Group (Royal Mail, Parcelforce, RMSS, RMPFS, RMF, RME, RMI, RMCE etc) to help reduce the spread of virus, I’m pleased to report that Post Office Ltd (POL) are also joining the government backed scheme.
Post Office Ltd have now also made a successful application and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has sanctioned POL joining the ‘workplace collect Lateral Flow Device (LFD) Test Kit/testing initiative. This will provide members not displaying any symptoms (either asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic), who are unable to work from home and especially in areas where infection rates, connected to new variants, are increasing, with an opportunity to collect free LFD Test Kits at the workplace or from the POL Swindon Stock Centre, enabling members to self-test conveniently, in the privacy of their own home.
POL are jointly with CWU and Unite/CMA supporting the government drive to increase workforce testing as part of the overall government drive to detect Coronavirus (Covid-19) in workers who are not showing symptoms.
To ensure the process works and the controls are met, POL have conducted a brief trial/pilot in six POL Directly Managed Branch Offices and three POL Supply Chain Centres as well as with 270 field operations employees who are visiting multi sites as part of the job. Early feedback suggests the trial/pilot has been successful and POL are now rolling out the offer of free LFD Test Kits to all employees who are unable to work from home, especially in areas of the country where there are concerns regarding an increasing rate of infection.
POL is now going to offer to provide test kits to all employees who are unable to work from home, so that will include all DMBs and Supply Chain sites and all field colleagues who are visiting branches. Line managers will now offer members the opportunity to be participate in the scheme and will be providing members with free test kits.
DHSC Testing Process and Controls
Prior to distributing LFD Test Kits to members who opt to participate in this initiative, there are a number of controls that need to be put in place due to governance terms and conditions of the scheme. These include training of the managers involved in the process and a requirement to capture data and serial numbers of test kits that are provided for use at home. Once employees have read the privacy notice and provided consent, they will be supplied with a guide on how to use the LFD Test Kits and also details on how to register so as to log test results through the self-test LFD Test portal www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result.
CWU strongly supports the scheme and encourages members to opt in to testing and to register their results as this will help the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to assess infection and testing trends across the UK and enable decisions to be made regarding future Covid controls and restrictions.
Getting a Lateral Flow Device (LFD) Rapid Test
In the meantime all members can still order kits for home use through the Universal scheme for the general public at: https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests
Everyone is now able to access these free, regular, rapid coronavirus LFD test kits for themselves and their families to use twice a week, following the government announcement. Now free rapid testing is on offer, people are encouraged to take regular tests to help prevent outbreaks and reclaim a more normal way of life.
Getting a rapid test is quick and convenient. Over 100,000 employers (including Royal Mail Group and POL) have registered their interest to provide rapid tests to their employees, and the offer of free testing is being expanded to companies with over 10 workers. LFD Test Kits can be obtained through:
- Workplace testing programmes (as with RMG and POL)
- An on-line home ordering service, which allows people to order LFD test kits to be delivered to their home
- Community testing, offered by all local authorities
- Collection from PCR Test Centres (during specific test collection times)
- Testing on-site at Schools and Colleges
- ‘Pharmacy Collect’ service through which People can collect a box of 7 rapid tests to use twice a week at home.
1 in 3 People Show No Symptoms
One in three people with COVID-19 do not experience or show any symptoms and may be spreading the virus unwittingly. Rapid testing detects cases quickly, meaning positive cases can isolate immediately and avoid spreading the virus and infecting others.
Lateral Flow Device (LFD) Rapid Test Accuracy
Since rapid LFD testing was introduced, over 120,000 positive Covid-19 cases that would not have been found otherwise have already been identified by LFDs. By making rapid tests available to everyone, more cases will be detected, breaking chains of transmission, avoiding infections and saving lives.
Recent analysis from NHS Test and Trace shows that for every 1,000 lateral flow tests carried out, there is less than 1 false positive result. LFDs detect cases with high levels of virus and are very effective in finding people who don’t have symptoms but are very likely to transmit the disease.
The rapid Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test is a very simple process which is undertaken in the privacy of your own home and provides a result in half an hour.
Alongside the rollout of the vaccine, regular testing is going to be an essential part of cutting infection rates and easing lockdown restrictions as it will help us quickly suppress the spread of variants. Through new testing technology, positive cases of virus variants of concern are being detected faster than ever before. More people getting a test will increase the ability to identify and control the threat of Covid-19 variants.
Rapid testing helps us find COVID-19 cases that wouldn’t otherwise be known about, helping to break chains of transmission. LFD Rapid tests are effective in detecting people that are infectious and therefore most likely to transmit infection to others. They are another tool to help maintain lower infection rates.
Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should not wait for an LFD test – They should, without delay, either book a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on-line at: https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or simply call 119.
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- loss of the sense of smell or taste – or it’s changed
The Health, Safety & Environment Department along with POL is encouraging everyone in Post Office Ltd, as in Royal Mail Group and other employers, if you are not already testing yourself, to take up the offer of these free rapid tests, to test twice a week from now to the end of June (if unable to work from home). They are quick and easy to carry out in people’s own home.
Don’t be the one that’s unknowingly spreading the virus, infecting others, in the workplace and elsewhere.
Testing helps detect those who are infected but have no symptoms. Individuals may feel well BUT they could be infected. Therefore, being able to identify positive cases of Coronavirus/ Covid-19 within our workplaces is important. It allows people to immediately and safely self-isolate, ensuring they are no longer working amongst other workers – and so stopping further people from becoming infected and ill. Let’s all help each other and avoid that.
Testing is key to breaking the chain of transmission, safeguarding the workforce, family, friends and population, so helping prevent the spread of the virus.
We know where we currently are with the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown and hopefully we’re moving towards a situation – all being well – when we can see the removal of constraints and restrictions currently in place to keep the virus under control. ‘But we’re not out of the woods yet’. We can’t be complacent. The virus hasn’t gone away. The country is making great progress in relation to rolling out the vaccine but new variants of the Virus are still a problem and testing is an essential part of the strategy to beat this virus.
The CWU is urging members to take part by testing – twice a week at home to keep this virus under control.
The CWU message is – Please support the drive to beat the virus by taking part in the workforce testing.
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer