Community Testing for Essential Workers and Volunteers in Birmingham

Friday, 24 April, 2020

National government has significantly increased testing capacity to include people showing symptoms of coronavirus who come under the category of ‘essential workers’ and ‘members of their households’.

This can help essential workers with coronavirus symptoms to protect the people they are working with and their families. It will also help them to safely return to work if a test is negative. A broad range of testing methods is being rolled out to increase accessibility, including home testing kits and mobile testing. The full list of essential workers is available by clicking on this link: Essential Workers

In regards to the parts of Birmingham’s Voluntary, Community and Faith sectors that are delivering critical activity, the relevant sections are:

All NHS and social care staff, including:

    • doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other front-line health and social care staff including volunteers
    • the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector

Essential public services staff, including:

    • charities and workers delivering critical front-line services

If you have had to maintain your activity rather than furloughing staff or asking staff or volunteers to work from home, this testing is likely to be available to you and your organisation.

There are two routes to accessing testing:

  1. Self-referral

    Essential workers who are self-isolating can book a test directly. You can select a regional test site drive-through appointment or a home test kit. Home test kit availability will initially be limited but more will become available. There is good availability of regional test sites, so please select this option if you can.

  2. Employer referral

    The employer referral portal allows employers to refer for testing any essential workers who are self-isolating because they, or members of their household, have coronavirus symptoms. It is a secure portal where employers can upload a full list of names and contact details of self-isolating essential workers. If referred through this portal, essential workers will receive a text message with a unique invitation code to book a test for themselves (if symptomatic), or for their symptomatic household members, at a regional testing site. In order to obtain a login, employers of essential workers should email portalservicedesk[at]dhsc.gov[dot]uk with two email addresses that will primarily be used to upload essential worker contact details. Once employer details have been verified, two login credentials will be issued for the employer referral portal.

We would encourage individuals and organisations within Birmingham’s VCSFE who believe they offer something critical to the city at this time, to assume eligibility and undertake the test if needed. We know many of you are facing complex decisions about balancing your responsibilities to your families and the people you support, and this can remove some of the uncertainty. Please communicate this information to as many of your colleagues and fellow volunteers as possible.