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RCEM urges patients to seek coronavirus testing via 119

16 September 2020

Responding to reports of patients going to Emergency Departments for Covid-19 testing, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Katherine Henderson said:

“We are aware that some patients are going to A&E in the hope of getting a coronavirus test, but we would urge any symptomatic patients to call 119.

“A&Es are not and cannot be test centres. We have very vulnerable patients in Emergency Departments, and just turning up in the hope of a test could put others at risk.

“Departments are becoming increasingly busy again as we head into winter and we must do all that we can to reduce the chances of spreading infection within them.

“To help us do that we need the public to seek testing through the right channels. We understand the frustrations people have with the current level of provision, and as we head into winter it is vital that testing capacity is improved across the board.

“In the meantime, all healthcare staff and their dependants must able to access testing quickly. We need to avoid healthy staff being off self-isolating unnecessarily while a family member is waiting to get a test or waiting for the result.

“As well as all healthcare staff, while capacity remains at the current level, we have to give priority to testing the sickest patients, those in care homes, and those having elective operations.”

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