NHS Tests VS. Other Tests Explained

NHS Tests VS. Other Tests Explained

Written by Ray

September 21, 2021

(Difference between NHS test and tests provided by Private providers)

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you can either get a test from the UK government’s National Health Service (NHS) or contact a private provider for general COVID-19 testing. But what is the difference between the NHS test and those provided by private testing companies?

NHS Tests VS. Other Tests Explained-01

NHS Tests

People with any of the three coronavirus symptoms, such as a high temperature, continuous cough, and the loss of sense of smell and taste, should immediately isolate themselves and take a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test to determine whether they have an active coronavirus infection.

The tests provided by the NHS are free for individuals who have the aforementioned COVID-19 symptoms and those who have been advised to take a test by a medical practitioner or a public agency.

You can get two different tests if you have symptoms of COVID-19, and each depends on the reason behind your need for testing.

1. PCR test – this test is primarily for people experiencing symptoms of the virus. Samples are sent to a laboratory for further examination.

2. Rapid lateral flow tests – this test is for people who suspect they have COVID-19 infection but show no signs of symptoms. Like the PCR test, it is free for anyone to get a rapid lateral flow test regularly. These tests can provide quick results using a device similar to a pregnancy test.

A person with no COVID-19 symptoms can still infect others. Therefore, healthcare professionals advise individuals to take a rapid antigen test twice a week, every three to four days, to check whether they have the virus.

Tests Provided by Private Testing Providers

Individuals who do not fall under the eligible categories for a free NHS test must get a private coronavirus test at their own cost. As such, people must conduct their own research about available providers and the types of tests they provide.

In looking for a private testing provider, they must complete the following:

  • 3-stage UKAS accreditation process – The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) worked together to develop this scheme for any providers of private COVID-19 testing requiring accreditation for their services.

Private testing providers must undergo this accreditation to the relevant International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) standards.

  • Self-declaration form for the general population and Test to Release for international arrivals.
  • Not all countries require the test to be conducted by a UKAS accredited or ISO 15189, thus it is essential to check the requirements of the country you are travelling to.

Private companies can offer different types of tests, and these include the following:

1. PCR test – It is considered the most reliable Covid-19 test because it looks for the virus’s genetic material. Done in a laboratory, it can produce the most accurate result of knowing whether or not you are infected with the virus.

2. Rapid antigen test – The results of this test are much quicker than PCR and do not have to be done in a lab. This type of test is usually done in hospitals, airports, and places with a COVID-19 outbreak.

3. Antibody test – This type of test does not determine whether a person is currently infected with the coronavirus. Instead, it can tell whether an individual has been infected in the past as it looks for antibodies. This test will need a blood sample.

The Takeaway

Only individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and those advised by a medical practitioner or public agency can get a free NHS test. Those who do not fall under these categories will need to look for a private testing provider.

Harley Medic International is a government-approved testing provider that can offer COVID-19 tests for travel. You can easily choose a test you require and easily book an appointment online. Visit our website at Harleymedic.co.uk to learn more.

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