Roz Howie, Covid-19 Programme Director and Senior Responsible Officer for Testing, provided a presentation updating the Board on access to symptomatic testing and the local Covid-19 testing strategy. A copy of the presentation is circulated with the initial publication of the minutes.
The following points were highlighted:
a) within the City there are facilities for symptomatic testing (PCR), asymptomatic testing (lateral flow), with asymptomatic testing in vulnerable settings, outbreak testing, community collect, and events testing;
b) there are 8 PCR testing sites within the City including: Winchester Street, Spondon Street, Forest Park and Ride, University Park Car Park, Duke Street Car Park, Jubilee Campus Car Park, Southglade Leisure Centre Car Park, NTU Clifton Campus Car Park;
c) asymptomatic testing using a lateral flow test identifies one in four of all cases reported daily and continues to be the main tool for the autumn and winter strategy in Nottingham to identify cases;
d) the Community Collect testing strategy focuses on the disproportionally affected and underrepresented, higher risk groups;
e) lateral flow tests are available form schools for secondary school pupils, and from 28 sites including Community Collect and testing sites. Citizens can receive a set of 7 self-test kits;
f) community testing cannot be provided for event goers so a separate budget is applied. To date testing for 8 different events at the National Ice Arena has been supported with approximately 90 people requiring specific tests for each event;
g) Pharmacy Collect is a separate funding stream. Previously citizens could just collect a box of testing kits, but as of 4 October, a QR code was required after online registration or from 111, before tests could be issued. However, following the expression of strong concerns that this complicates access and may deter uptake, pharmacies have now been instructed to issue tests on request, even if a QR code is not provided. This reversal has been welcomed by Health colleagues;
h) not all pharmacies are registered to issue kits so citizens need to go online to identify those which do. Promotion of regular use and easy access to home testing kits and mobile testing sites is issued almost daily through a variety of media communication routes (including taxi drivers and doctor’s surgeries) to reach as many citizens as possible;
i) several private workplaces across the city are registered to undertake LF 23 testing;
j) specific community collect sites have been established to encourage engagement disproportionately impacted and underrepresented groups. These sites include, the Indian Community Centre and the Chayah Project (black Caribbean food bank), but tests are also available through services provided to housebound and physically disabled residents, such as meals at home, in addition to some Leisure Centres and Children’s Contact Centres in low uptake areas. Tests are available from all Nottingham City Council libraries;
k) for vulnerable citizens and those with complex needs, on-site testing is available for users of the three asylum seeker hotels, the refugee hotel, domestic violence refuges, and to contact services for homeless and rough sleepers, users of day services, sex workers and people dependent on drugs and alcohol.
Members of the Board commented as follows:
l) with an average uptake of only about 20 per day at Forest Park and Ride site for asymptomatic testing, further work is required in the area needs to increase uptake. The possibility of approaching the tram operators is being investigated to request their cooperation in placing signs on the tram and at the tram stops promoting the easy access to the test centre if travelling on the tram. It is welcomed that some funding can be arranged to support this;
m) it’s not unreasonable to request that local businesses are asked to promote regular testing for the safety of their customers and staff.