Frontline healthcare workers in Fife – and their families – are to be among the first in the country to be guaranteed coronavirus tests after the health board introduced a new drive-through testing programme.
A select group of health and social care workers are now getting the chance to be swabbed and tested swiftly in the hope they can return to work.
Like many other parts of the country, a number of health and social care workers in Fife have had to self-isolate for 14 days if a member of their household displayed symptoms consistent with coronavirus, or seven days if they showed symptoms themselves.
The drive-through programme at Cameron Hospital near Windygates has started to test prioritised workers and their immediate household contacts. It is only available to people who are 72 hours into the onset of a new continuous cough and/or temperature in excess of 37.8°.
It follows a general public drive-through set up at Cameron Hospital last month.
The programme is to expand to include testing of critical social care staff working in Fife from next week.
NHS Fife’s Director of Public Health, Dona Milne, said: “The dedication shown by our staff over recent weeks has been second-to-none, and for those having to self-isolate this been a source of some frustration. By testing those priority staff, we will be enabling many to return to work to support their colleagues in doing what we know they do best – providing the best possible care to the people of Fife.”
Prioritised staff will be contacted and advised of their appointment time. If several members of a family are symptomatic, only the household member with the most recent date of onset and/or most clear cut symptoms will be prioritised for testing.
Those tested will be instructed to stay in their cars at all times and only open car windows in response to a health care worker wearing personal protective equipment.
The test itself comprises of a single swab inserted into the throat then the nose, which is then taken to NHS Fife’s own laboratories at the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy with the result known the next working day.
Hospitalised patients will continue to be prioritised for testing.
If the result is positive for a staff member or their household contact, they must remain off work for seven days post onset of symptoms, after which they can return to work if they have remained fever free for 48 hours.
Should the result be negative, the staff member will be risk assessed by Occupational Health and in most cases will be permitted to return to work.