The latest on access to Covid-19 tests for social workers

This story has been updated

Image of Covid-19 coronavirus test (credit: jarun011 / Adobe Stock)
(credit: jarun011 / Adobe Stock)


This story originally said that Covid-19 tests were not available for social workers without symptoms of the disease. This was based on information provided by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

The department said that, following the pledge to roll-out testing to social care workers, regardless of symptoms, testing was, at this stage, only being provided for care home staff, with no timescale to extend this to other social care workers, including social workers.

However, following its publication, social workers said (see comments below) that there was no problem with them accessing tests when asymptomatic, with no requirement to provide evidence of symptoms on the government’s online test booking system.

We will check the latest position with the DHSC and provide an update when we have it. We apologise for the confusion caused by the original story.

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17 Responses to The latest on access to Covid-19 tests for social workers

  1. R May 6, 2020 at 7:06 pm #

    We’ve been told that we can only have a test if we are symptomatic and if so, we are to inform the line manager who sends notification to HR. They then book the test for us. we aren’t able to us the same method the wider population do.

    • K.Randall May 7, 2020 at 5:42 pm #

      You can fill the form in on line.You should not need your employer to to it for you. Matt Hancock stated all people who work in social care including social workers can be tested with or without symptons.

  2. Bertram C Billinness May 6, 2020 at 7:15 pm #

    What about the “Home Care” workers working for the same Care Companies but out in the field.
    These are Social Services and Medical Centre Support.
    In general the Home Carers are the only link between the Ederly in their own home and every NHS service including Paramedics,.OT, Medical Centres et al.

    There are “Thousands” of Elderly and Disabled people benefiting from this Service. Social Services arrange and agree the nature of the Contract and Pay the Care Companies; many individuals who have the means, pay for this Service in order to remain in their own home.

    These Carers must be included in the Testing.
    There must be equal standing in respect of Barring visitors from the premises during “Isolation Periods” and Lock Down. Particularly since many of these are 90 years old and more.

    Your consideration and subsequent Declaration with immediate effect is required before the United Kingdom is facing yet another embarasing comparison with European countries, particularly those that do not have such a large base of “Elderly at Home” Patients.

    In conclusion! A similar thing happened with PPE !
    It should not happen here.

    Kind regards

    Bertram C. Billinness

  3. Roxy May 6, 2020 at 7:52 pm #

    Is this accurate? because as a social worker just last week I used the government site and booked for testing with a slot available the following day and had my results 2 days later.

    • Mithran Samuel May 6, 2020 at 9:44 pm #

      Thanks for that. It’s what we’ve been told by the Department of Health and Social Care – but I assumed from last week’s announcement that social workers were eligible for tests regardless of symptoms so it could be that that arrangement was briefly in place and now is not. Hard to say!

      • Colin Watson May 17, 2020 at 9:07 pm #

        Social Workers may be able to take these tests regardless of symptoms, but The Home carer I have cannot get the Covid 19 test unless she shows signs of being il!.

        I received a letter and an ID card saying she is classed as an “Essential” worker & to apply online for the test.

        I live in Middlesbrough, which is apparently the highest hit town by Covid 19 and can still find nobody to help.

        However, even trying 3/4 times a day there are never any Tests Available (Even from 3 or 4 am daily. AND she or I must have the symptoms)

        I pay towards my care and my carer is the only person Ive had contact with in almost 12 weeks.

        She is supposed to have 1 day per week off, However the relief carer for that day is quarantined So she works 7 days a week now with, I might add, No extra from Social Services.
        If a place came up she would have to travel 6 to 8 miles to queue in a car park, (She doesn’t drive)
        How easy would it be to be able to pick a test up from a chemist? Drug addicts can pick up their Methadone from a named chemist.!

        Any suggestions would be gratefully accepted.
        Colin Watson,

    • Denise Webb May 7, 2020 at 8:11 pm #

      Hi roxy I had no problem booking my test on line got a slot for next day and got results 48hrs later no problem. Don’t know what these people are on about?

  4. Claire H May 7, 2020 at 8:45 am #

    I booked one for myself last Wednesday when the tests were announced by the media. I got a same day appointment and the results in less than 48 hours. I had no symptoms but wanted reassurance I was not carrying the virus and potentially infecting families I continue to visit.

    • Mithran Samuel May 7, 2020 at 9:14 am #

      Thanks for that. Seems like it’s a mixed picture so we’ll keep tabs on this and do let us know your experiences.

  5. Jo Burton May 7, 2020 at 6:44 pm #

    This is incorrect as all social care workers can have a test via the government website regardless of symptoms

  6. Ivan May 8, 2020 at 4:15 am #

    This is total rubbish. Just book a test online yourself. It’s easy and you don’t have to prove anything except your identity. I booked my test on Wednesday evening and had it yesterday morning in Walsall. They can’t prove that you are or aren’t symptomatic when you get there. That is unless you turn up coughing continuously and you can’t speak to them on the phone from inside the car at the test site. This story is utter nonsense.
    1) your employer can refer you if you like.
    2) you can book the test yourself, without your employer having anything to do with it or knowledge of you having it unless you tell them.
    3) all you have to take is your I’d and the at code they email to you

  7. Mithran Samuel May 8, 2020 at 6:43 am #

    Hi All,
    Thanks for your comments. Apologies the story isn’t right. It’s what we were told by the DHSC. We’ll look into it further and update.

  8. Jim May 8, 2020 at 1:47 pm #

    Its all very well getting tested and results negative, but then the next day you could be exposed unknowingly to the virus and have a 50/50 chance that several days later you will not show any symptoms but still risk spreading it.It may be that you are less infectious if you dont have symptoms but nonetheless can still infect others to some degree. So tests on each person testing negative would have to be done regularly [once a month perhaps] to make it moe effective.

  9. Phil Sanderson May 8, 2020 at 4:14 pm #

    The link to apply clearly says that you must have symptoms to test. The reality is that testing is completely inadequate it must be made widely available. When someone tests positive in the workplace then all staff should be tested but this is not currently possible.The only group who can get a test without symptoms are care workers working in homes.

  10. TedK May 10, 2020 at 10:08 am #

    You provided the link to the online test booking but on that page it says:
    Who can apply for a test
    You can apply for a test if you are:
    an essential worker with coronavirus symptoms
    aged 65 or over with coronavirus symptoms
    someone who cannot work from home and has coronavirus symptoms (for example, construction workers or delivery drivers)
    Anyone with coronavirus symptoms can apply if they live with an essential worker, a person aged 65 or over, or someone who travels to work.
    You can also apply for a test if you have a clinical referral from NHS 111 online.

    NO mention of asymptomatic social care workers….!!

    • J Birnie May 12, 2020 at 7:44 pm #

      It does say social care workers with or without symptoms

  11. Katie May 12, 2020 at 4:33 pm #

    If you cannot drive and there is no way for you to get to a drive thru testing and connot get a home test kit, due to none available, should your employer provide you with one?