Testing information for patients
At a glance
Supply for COVID-19 tests is not currently meeting demand. There are things you can do to help:
- Only book a test if you or someone you care for has specific symptoms of COVID-19
- To book a test(s) please go to https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus or phone 119
- DO NOT phone NHS 111, your GP surgery or visit your Emergency Department, as they have no access to tests
- Testing centres are not walk-in – you will need an appointment and cannot be tested without one
- If you can’t get a test immediately or near to you keep trying the website address as more tests are added throughout the course of each day and you will often find that you can book a test quickly by trying again
The aim is to get your test results within 48 hours. However, if you have been awaiting your results for longer than five days and want to ask when you should receive them please contact the Coronavirus testing helpline: 0300 303 2713
There is currently a high level of demand for Coronavirus tests so to help the NHS to manage this demand it is important that people consider the advice before applying for a test and go to the right place for their needs.
Should I get tested?
Anyone showing any of the three key symptoms of coronavirus should be able to be tested. The symptoms are:
- a fever
- a new continuous cough
- a loss of smell or taste
Only book a test if you or someone you care for has specific symptoms of COVID-19
Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms. The idea of testing is to find people with the virus and keep them isolated to avoid it being spread through the wider community.
Booking a test
- To book a test(s) please go to https://www.gov.uk/coronavirusor phone 119
- If you can’t get a test immediately or near to you please do keep trying the website address above as more tests are added throughout the course of each day and you will often find that you can book a test quickly by trying again
- The aim is to get your test results within 48 hours. However, if you have been awaiting your results for longer than five days and want to ask when you should receive them please contact the Coronavirus testing helpline: 0300 303 2713
If someone in your household starts to have symptoms, then that person must get tested and the rest of the household should self-isolate with them whilst they wait for the results. If other members of the household don’t have symptoms, then they should not get a test – only people with symptoms should get tested. Full guidance on self-isolation is available on gov.uk.
If people are self-isolating or in quarantine, a negative result means the test did not find coronavirus. The virus can take time to develop and so a test early on does not prove that they won’t go on to develop the virus. You do not need to self-isolate if your test is negative, as long as:
- everyone you live with who has symptoms tests negative
- everyone in your support bubble who has symptoms tests negative
- you were not told to self-isolate for 14 days by NHS Test and Trace
- you feel well – if you feel unwell, stay at home until you’re feeling better
Experiencing an inconclusive test or a delayed result
If an individual receives an inconclusive test result then they should continue to self-isolate and request another test if they still have symptoms. Individuals experiencing a delay with their results are advised to contact the coronavirus testing helpline: 0300 303 2713 who will be able to help or point the people in the right direction. Due to each test having a Unique Reference Number (URN) individuals have to follow up the test results themselves. Individuals are asked not to call their GP practice to book a test, as GPs have no access to the testing system.