Guidance: Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing for hospices

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NHS Test and Trace is making weekly COVID-19 testing available to all hospices in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Separate arrangements are in place for hospices in Scotland.

All registered hospices have been contacted with details of how to apply for test kits for their staff and patients. Hospices will be responsible for ordering test kits for both inpatient and community-based settings. Different testing routes apply depending on where the testing will be carried out, and these routes are described in detail in this document.

We will also cover rapid testing for visitors and visiting professionals for inpatient hospice settings.

Why testing is important


  • protects your patients, staff and visitors

  • prevents and controls outbreaks by identifying cases early

  • provides reassurance, allowing those who test negative to carry on working?


For more information you can join our webinars, which are hosted on a regular basis.

These live webinars will talk you through the end-to-end process for hospice testing and will include a live question and answer session with the hospice testing team, who will be happy to answer your questions.

Sign up to hospice testing webinars

1. Summary: testing for hospices

About the service

The service covers 3 individual elements:

  • inpatient hospice testing where hospice staff look after patients on site

  • community-based hospice testing where hospice staff visit patients in their own homes

  • visitor testing for testing visitors, including visiting professionals such as faith leaders, before they come into contact with staff or patients in a hospice

Regular asymptomatic testing for hospices in England


All hospice staff should test with:

  • 1 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test every week

  • 1 rapid lateral flow test on the same day as the PCR

  • 1 rapid lateral flow test midweek, 3 to 4 days after their PCR test


  • Patients may be tested upon admission (if appropriate) and ad hoc if required

  • Staff must take a rapid lateral flow test before starting work if returning from leave or if they have worked somewhere else in between

  • If a staff member tests positive from a rapid lateral flow test, they must take a confirmatory PCR and self-isolate until result available

Rapid response testing for hospices in England

If a positive case is identified in a hospice setting (from a PCR or rapid lateral flow test), all staff should undertake daily rapid lateral flow test testing for 7 days.

If one of these is positive, a confirmatory PCR must be taken and then self-isolation until result is available.

In addition to this, if any positive cases found in a hospice (either PCR or rapid lateral flow test), the hospice manager should contact their local health protection team (HPT) immediately, and follow the advice given.

Regular asymptomatic testing for hospices in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Hospice testing in each of these countries uses only PCR testing.


Northern Ireland:


Testing is delivered locally through the local NHS

Unique organisation number (UON)

  • NHS Test and Trace assigns all participating organisations a single unique organisation number (UON)

  • Managers will receive their UON via the email address registered with Care Quality Commission (CQC) please make sure that the person who receives these emails understands the importance of this message and knows who to contact

  • A UON is an 8-digit number that is exclusive to an individual organisation this can be used to login to all online elements of the testing process

Managers will need to use their UON for:

  • ordering test kits

  • contacting the national coronavirus contact centre for support (dial 119, or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland)

Staff will need to use their UON for:

If you have any issues with this process, please call 119.

2. PCR kits

Ordering test kits

You will need:

Enter the number of staff who require testing, and the number of inpatient beds for the number of non-staff.

Hospices in England can also order rapid lateral flow tests. These will be provided in boxes of 7.

Once you have placed an order, you will receive a confirmatory email from


You will receive an email from who will confirm the estimated delivery date.

Test kits will be delivered to the registered address. It is their responsibility to accept delivery of kits and arrange for despatch or collection. Re-ordering should be done on a monthly basis.

Distributing test kits to staff who are testing remotely

Once kits have been delivered it is the managers responsibility to distribute to staff or arrange for collection. Staff can pick up kits at the same time as other materials (for example, personal protective equipment (PPE) or other medical supplies).

Each member of staff should receive 4 PCR kits and (if in England) 2 boxes of 7 rapid lateral flow test kits every 28 days so that weekly testing can continue without interruption.

Conducting PCR tests

Staff will conduct a combined throat and nose self-swab for the test.

Follow the instructional video on how to do a throat and nasal swab.

Always leave 7 days between tests where possible. Additionally, continue testing at home if on holiday (in the UK) or off work due to any illness which is not related to coronavirus.

Registering PCR tests

You will need:

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