Hospitals in England may have to pay for their Covid-19 tests | World news

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A “budget cap” on coronavirus tests means NHS hospitals in England face paying for them from their own budgets unless they gain approval. The cap was placed on the amount of money available for tests for patients and staff, according to information sent to trusts.

The guidance, first reported by the Independent, makes clear that NHS providers will need formal approval from the Department of Health and Social Care and its test-and-trace service or they will not be able to claim back costs, which will be funded on a “capped actuals basis” and have a “maximum budget”.

The document was reportedly sent on Friday, the day after NHS test-and-trace boss Dido Harding told MPs demand was up to four times that of testing capacity.

Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “We need to understand the full implications of this change in policy and there may be some merits in it. But public confidence in test and trace has already been undermined and anything that introduces further delays for staff and patients will undoubtedly raise more concerns.”

NHS England’s guidance, which it has confirmed is accurate, said: “Testing is now overseen by DHSC’s NHS Test and Trace service, and the NHS will be funded for Covid-19 testing services by government on a capped actuals basis. This means that, for a clear set of deliverables, there is a maximum budget, with funding up to that maximum for the actual costs NHS providers incur.

“NHS providers who have not been commissioned to deliver the service should not establish testing without formal approval and will not be able to access funding to reimburse costs incurred from establishing testing unapproved by the DHSC NHS Test and Trace service.”

The government is still under fire over the NHS Test and Trace system, with experts warning that without effective testing and tracing it will be much harder to control the spread of the virus and pinpoint larger outbreaks.

Well-designed and resourced testing regimes have the potential to reduce the reproduction rate of Covid-19 (the R number) by up to 26%, according to a study undertaken by Imperial College.

A DHSC spokeswoman said: “NHS lab capacity is already being used to test hospital staff and patients and significant funding has been committed to make sure that those who need tests receive them.

“Since the beginning of this pandemic we have prioritised testing for health and care workers with staff in hospitals able to access a test through their trust. We are increasing capacity and health and social care secretary Matt Hancock has already confirmed the top priority for testing is acute clinical care.”

Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Hospitals in England may have to pay for their Covid-19 tests | World news

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