NHS Education for Scotland Logo

Scotland Deanery

Home of Medical and Dental Excellence

COVID-19 information and guidance as we receive it

COVID-19 Point of Care Testing Governance Policy

The link to the full Governance Policy is HERE

Introduction

COVID-19 is continuing to have significant clinical effects on the human population,
not only on those it directly infects, but also on the population at large as a
consequence of social distancing and shielding those at greatest risk. Understanding
the extent to which the SARS-CoV-2 virus is being transmitted through the
population is crucial in terms of limiting spread and safeguarding vulnerable
individuals, especially as we enter winter 2020 when we shall be faced with the
additional seasonal challenges brought by other respiratory pathogens such as
influenza and RSV. How we carry out testing for COVID-19 is therefore of paramount
importance in maintaining population health as it will be necessary to continue to test
stringently for COVID-19 in anyone who presents with concerning respiratory
symptoms, not only for that person’s individual clinical management, but also so that
the ramifications of a positive test are acted on in terms of contact tracing and
isolating appropriately. From this viewpoint it is likely that asymptomatic testing will
assume a growing role in the weeks and months ahead.


The NHSScotland response to this pandemic has resulted in a significant number of
changes in how we are presently delivering care, both strategically and
operationally, including such initiatives as an enhanced reliance on virtual
technologies, more multiagency collaborative working, and the establishing of
COVID-19 ‘hubs’, whose aim is to manage potential COVID-19 presentations in the
community thereby reducing unnecessary secondary care attendances and
admissions. There have therefore been a number of significant ‘gains’ in our
response to COVID-19, and it is imperative that we capitalise on these and ensure
any national testing strategy take cognizance of these novel approaches to
healthcare and its delivery. It is also very likely we shall be managing the immediate
and delayed effects of this pandemic for some years to come so all these factors
play into any testing strategy.


Point of care testing (POCT) offers the opportunity to obtain a rapid result from a
‘near patient’ investigation in a number of different investigation modalities, and is
used to great effect in primary, community and secondary care settings; we therefore
have an opportunity here to apply the principles of POCT, or ‘rapid testing’ to our
management of COVID-19 and this guidance aims to set out clear principles on how
this should be done in health settings across Scotland. Given the rapid pace of
change underpinning our response to this pandemic we have focused on clinical
management where POCT is concerned and will pick up some further specific
laboratory considerations in a more comprehensive national document around all
POCT management to be published in due course. We also hope that this guidance
will work as a living iterative document that will be updated to reflect the changes in
our response to this pandemic.

This page was last updated on: 16.12.2020 at 12.59


Top