LFD service

Published on: 16th October 2023 | Updated on: 12th July 2024

The Lateral flow device tests supply service for patients potentially eligible for COVID-19 treatments (LFD service) was commissioned as an Advanced service from 6th November 2023.

In March 2024 it was announced that the service would continue to be commissioned in 2024/25 and that additional patient groups became eligible to access the service.

In late May 2024, the service specification was updated to make the eligibility criteria section clearer to understand, as well as emphasising that patients eligible for the service do not need to have symptoms of COVID-19 to obtain a free box of LFD test kits under the service.

This webpage contains information on and resources to support provision of the service.


Click on a heading below for more information

Introduction

The NHS offers COVID-19 treatment to people with COVID-19 who are at risk of becoming seriously ill.

To access treatment, eligible patients first need to be able to test themselves by using a lateral flow device (LFD) test if they develop symptoms suggestive of COVID-19.

It is therefore important that they have LFD tests at their home in advance of developing symptoms, so they can promptly undertake a test.

The LFD service was introduced to provide eligible patients with access to LFD tests.

If a patient tests positive, they are advised to call their general practice, NHS 111 or hospital specialist as soon as possible. The test result will be used to inform a clinical assessment to determine whether the patient is suitable for and will benefit from NICE recommended COVID-19 treatments.

Read our news story announcing the commissioning of the service

A similar service was previously commissioned, which was known as the COVID-19 Lateral Flow Device Distribution Service (publicly known as Pharmacy Collect). However, this service was decommissioned on 31st March 2022. Information on the previous service can be found on our COVID-19 Lateral Flow Device Distribution Service Archive website page.

Service specification and other documentation

The full service requirements are detailed in the service specification.

In late May 2024, the service specification was updated to make the eligibility criteria section clearer to understand, as well as emphasising that patients eligible for the service do not need to have symptoms of COVID-19 to obtain a free box of LFD test kits under the service.

Secretary of State Directions 
The Secretary of State Directions provide the legal basis for the provision of the service.

This is a walk-in service where patients or their representatives can collect one box of 5 LFD tests from a participating community pharmacy on confirmation that the patient is part of the potentially eligible for COVID-19 treatments cohort.

Wherever possible, eligible patients should obtain LFD tests via the service in advance of developing symptoms.

The full list of eligible patients aged 12 years and over that are eligible to access LFD tests via the service (because they are at risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 and therefore are potentially eligible for COVID-19 treatments) can be found in the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance:

Supporting information on risk factors for progression to severe COVID-19

From 1st April 2024, the following additional patient groups became eligible to access the LFD service, as well as those listed on the NICE website:

  • People aged 85 years and over
  • People with end-stage heart failure who have a long-term ventricular assistance device
  • People on the organ transplant waiting list
  • People resident in a care home who are aged 70 years and over
  • People resident in a care home who have a BMI of 35 kg/m2 or more
  • People resident in a care home who have diabetes
  • People resident in a care home who have heart failure
  • People currently in a hospital who are aged 70 years and over
  • People currently in a hospital who have a BMI of 35 kg/m2 or more
  • People currently in a hospital who have diabetes
  • People currently in a hospital who have heart failure

The additional patient groups are also listed in the Eligible patient groups for the LFD service Factsheet

The change in eligible patients for the LFD service, follows updated NICE guidance on patient groups eligible for COVID-19 treatments and increases the number of patients eligible to use the service to around 5.3 million people.

Prior to 27th June 2023, any patients previously identified as being eligible for access to free LFD tests and assessment for COVID-19 treatments were contacted by the NHS by letter.

Patients who are newly eligible for access to free LFD tests will be made aware of their eligibility by their doctor or specialist at the point they are diagnosed with a qualifying condition or commence a qualifying treatment regimen, but they are unlikely to be sent a letter confirming their eligibility.

The pharmacy owner must confirm the patient’s eligibility for a supply of LFD tests. This could be by:

  • Seeing the patient’s NHS letter which confirms eligibility (not all patients will have been sent a letter);
  • Having a discussion with the patient or their representative about the patient and their medical history, confirming they have a qualifying condition or qualify due to age. The pharmacist or pharmacy technician may wish to review the pharmacy’s PMR or the National Care Records Service (NCRS) and then use their clinical judgement; or
  • Referring to the pharmacy’s clinical records for the service, where the pharmacy has previously seen and made a record of having seen a copy of the patient’s NHS letter confirming eligibility or has previously had a discussion with the patient or their representative which confirmed their eligibility and a record of this was made.

Eligible patients should only receive one box of 5 LFD tests per consultation.

Where possible, pharmacy owners should additionally seek to ensure that they are providing tests to eligible patients at appropriate intervals and requests do not exceed what is deemed reasonably required for an eligible patient, e.g. they are not supplying multiple boxes of tests over a short period.

Community pharmacies should purchase LFD tests through their usual wholesalers; they will not be supplied by the NHS.

Getting ready to provide the service

Read the service documents

Pharmacy owners should read the service specification and the FAQs on our website so they understand the service requirements and can make an informed decision as to whether they want to provide the service from their pharmacy.


Standard Operating Procedure

Pharmacy owners must have a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the service, which all staff participating in provision of the service must be familiar with and follow.

This should be reviewed regularly and following any significant incident or change to the service.

The pharmacy owner must ensure that all pharmacy staff involved in the provision of the service are familiar with and adhere to the SOP.

Template Standard Operating Procedure (Microsoft Word) (Updated May 2024)


Brief the team on the service

All staff should be briefed on the service; a pharmacy team briefing sheet is available below, which could be used to assist with this.

Team briefing sheet for the service (Updated May 2024)


Purchasing LFD test kits

Review your existing stock of LFD test kits or place an order for an appropriate number of them from your usual wholesaler.


Sign up to provide service

Pharmacy owners must notify NHS England that they intend to provide the service by completion of an electronic registration through the NHS Business Services Authority’s (NHSBSA) Manage Your Service (MYS) portal.


Update NHS Profile Manager

Pharmacy owners should update NHS Profile Manager to show that the service is available at their pharmacy. It will be listed as ‘COVID-19 lateral flow tests (eligible NHS patients)’ in the Treatments and Services section of their NHS website profile.

That will ensure the service is visible on the pharmacy’s NHS website profile, so patients and others can identify the pharmacy provides the service.

Members of the public and healthcare professionals can search for a pharmacy that offers the LFD service using the Use the LFD service finder on the NHS website.


Print out paperwork

Print out copies of the data collection form.

Data collection form

Pharmacy owners could also consider printing out the eligible patient groups list from the NICE website to use as a reference to assist with assessing whether a patient is suitable to access the service.

Supporting information on risk factors for progression to severe COVID-19

And the Eligible patient groups for the LFD service Factsheet which lists the additional patient groups who became eligible to receive LFD tests from 1st April 2024.


Pharmacy owner checklist

Once a pharmacy owner has decided they wish to provide the service, our implementation checklist will guide you through the steps you need to take to prepare to provide the service.

Implementation checklist

Providing the service

Signposting patients 

A service finder, on the NHS website, lets members of the public and healthcare professionals search for a pharmacy that offers the free COVID-19 rapid LFD test supplies as part of the NHS LFD Supply Service.

The pharmacy COVID-19 rapid LFD test supply service finder


Withdrawing from provision of the service

If the pharmacy owner wishes to stop providing the service, they must notify NHS England that they are no longer going to provide the service via the MYS portal, giving at least 30-days’ notice prior to cessation of the service. Pharmacy owners may be asked for a reason as to why they wish to stop providing the service.

Funding and claiming payment

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 Drug Tariff (paragraph 81 of Part VIC).

Pharmacy owners will need to submit their claims for payment within the MYS portal, as part of the normal month end claims process.

Claims for payment should be submitted within one month of, and no later than three months from the claim period for the chargeable activity provided. Claims which relate to work completed more than three months after the claim period in question, will not be paid.

Frequently asked questions

Visit the LFD service Frequently Asked Questions page for FAQs on the service requirements.

Resources

For more information on this topic please email services.team@cpe.org.uk

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