Covid test kits

The new system for accessing free covid test kits isnt working. They are no longer available to order through the NHS. Insteuctions say take a letter stating eligibility for covid treatment to a chemist to get the kits. I did this today and the chemist was not aware of this and refused to give me them. I asked what i should do and was told to ring around other chemists until i found one who would supply the kits or pay for them. Has anyone else encountered this?

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Hello @ilivesunshine
Thank you for posting this thread. We have heard of a few similar situations to this, where a patient’s local pharmacy doesn’t have free tests. It would be interesting to know from others on the Forum, if they have also had issues in obtaining the kits.
The advice our Policy team have suggested is to escalate your difficulty to your GP, your Haematology team and your MP!
Also, contact your local ICB (Integrated Care Board) - [Find Your ICB] to let them know(Find your local integrated care board (ICB) - NHS) your local pharmacy doesn’t stock the free tests, and that they didn’t know about the scheme.

Information on this NHS page tells you in more detail about eligibility and about what is needed to claim the tests: Covid testing kits

I hope some of this is helpful. Please let us know how you get on.
Take care, Heidi.

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Thanks for letting us all know your experiences. @ilivesunshine
I haven’t tried yet as I stocked up before the NHS system ended.
Look after yourself and I await your plans for next years breaks xx

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Hi Erica. I didnt stock up, silly me! We had a lovey 3 week cruise around the Adriatic in September, visiting some interesting places in Croatia, Monrenegro, Albania and Italy. Unfortunately I caught covid for the second time. The preview time was in Ctpruss. Thankfully I only felt unwell gor a couple of days so jab number 9 must have worked!
We were looking forward to a cruse in January Brazil and the Carribean but have had to cancel it. When we booked there was no requirement to have a yellow fever jaɓ but this has chaged for Rio de Janerio so we cant go. We have foud an alternative, but not hntil February so will have to suffer the old weather a while ,onger. Hope you are keeping well.

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My local pharmacy hasn’t signed up to the new process that came in since 16 Nov. I remember reading somewhere that around 5,000 of the 11,000 pharmacies in England have signed up so less than 50%, so we’ll definitely need to ring round to find one that has. I believe that most Boots pharmacies have signed up for the scheme so will try the nearest Boots when I next need a box of LFTs.

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You wouldn’t think it would be too difficult for the Government website to have a list of participating pharmacies! Instead it’s much more fun for us all to play ‘Find the Pharmacy’:roll_eyes::rage:

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@Ruth with my fatigue I am likely to give up playing ‘Find the Pharmacy’ as I don’t deal with what personally stresses me well and it all gets too much.
If enough people stop testing then Covid might spread even more quickly, which again hits us vulnerable.

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Same here I too stocked up and I must have tempted fate as two weeks later I used them all up when I caught covid for the third time.
Whilst getting tests seems problematic I can say that the support I got on testing positive was fantastic. It was no different than mid pandemic.
So I follow with interest as I probably need to get some more in ready for next time ! I’m definitely the sickly child in the family now that catches everything. Sat in a car for 10 hours driving back from Belgium with my 79 year old mum and husband but thankfully neither of those got it from me :slight_smile: )

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Reading the above it’s not just a matter of providing the tests it looks to be “audited” which some pharmacies may not want to do

Access to LFD test kits allows eligible patients to self-test if they have symptoms which suggest they may have COVID-19, with the potential for them to access treatment if the result is positive.

A service fee of £4 + VAT will be paid for each completed transaction of the supply of one box of five COVID-19 LFD test kits and the cost of tests supplied will be paid according to arrangements set out in the November 2023 Drug Tariff.

When ready to provide the service, pharmacy owners will be able to sign up on the NHSBSA’s MYS portal from 6th November 2023, after which they will be able to provide the service.

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Great - so we don’t pay for the kits but we do pay for the service.

Back in 2022 I maintained a stockpile of 5/6 boxes, but I got lazy and am now down to my penultimate box. Stupidly I assumed that what the NHS site said would just work - ‘go to a pharmacy and pick up a free pack’. How can I have been so naive? :face_with_open_eyes_and_hand_over_mouth:

Yes - far too easy for anyone to have thought of that.:face_with_peeking_eye:

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‘Hunt the pharmacy’ hint: Find a pharmacy - NHS
(looks easy, but I haven’t put it though its paces yet - something tells me there will be wrinkles)

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Hi @BobK99 thanks that is a really useful link, take care.

On reflection, someone may just have done a Google trick, and listed anything called ‘pharmacy’. Still, it’s worth a try.

I got a kit today - no problem. I just had to get a one-line letter from a GP :wink:

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Going on holiday in a couple of weeks and intended to take some Covid tests, just in case! Noticed the boxes are all past their use by date!! Phoned our local Community Pharmacy who dispenses prescriptions from the GP practice for advice (having found nothing helpful on any NHS/ICB etc. sites). Very helpful reply was yes, he can let me have one box free of charge provided I bring some sort of proof I have a condition confirming I’m eligible (eg letter from Haematologist). He says no-one knows if out-of-date tests will work, so suggests I return them to him for disposal.
Beverley

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I have been to a pharmacy where I live today as my tests have expired. I took plenty of proof with me and went when the pharmacy was quiet. The receptionist said they issued them and then said I needed the letter explicitly stating I was entitled to the antivirals. I told her I had all the information she needed including a listed diagnosis and the antiviral letter. She showed the pharmacist who agreed I was eligible. She then proceeded to fill in a form with my details and gave me a box of tests. I asked if I had to go through this each time and she said I did!!! By the time this had been completed the pharmacy was full. Do all pharmacies behave like this? Why can’t we register and just nip in with ID to procure replacement tests? The length of time needed to complete the forms adds to the exposure time in an area of risk. Currently I am not just at risk for Covid but any viral illness.

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Hi there @Lababe What a palaver! Doesn’t surprise me though - I haven’t actually been to our pharmacy yet - only had the conversation that it’s going to be possible to go and get the tests. It seems that every single pharmacy were told (just before Christmas) that there was no longer going to be a central ‘system’ for ordering tests and they could choose to organise this for themselves!! Our local pharmacy is a small independent with about three branches - what a ridiculous waste of resources when it could still be centrally administered . . . I tried to contact our so-called ‘Integrated Care Board’ which has no information online, phone lines that are closed and an email address which you get no response from (a pretty website gives all sorts of ‘mission statements’ of course!) What’s going on??! Sorry for the rant.

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Hello @beverleyanny, yes it was a palaver. I only chose that one because you can actually see how busy they are from outside. I think I shall try the smaller one nearer my GP practice and see if it’s any better and as a last straw Boots where you walk through the whole store to arrive at pharmacy. I am sure there must be a more efficient way! Why does everything have to be tricky? Our ICB does reply to emails ….eventually.

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Yes @Lababe yes, I was told the same procedure so I asked for a blank form to take home so I have filled it in and photocopied some copies for the future.

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