Essential services testing for COVID-19 in South East London

To book a test you will need to be either:

  • An individual (adult or child) with Covid-19 symptoms living in the same household as a member of NHS staff or staff working in a care setting.


  • A member of NHS staff or staff working in a care setting, with Covid-19 symptoms.

For testing to be accurate you (or the person in your household needing testing) should be on days 1–3 of the onset of Covid-19 symptoms at the time the swab is taken. 

  • You can request a PCR test – antigen testing – which will confirm if you currently have Covid-19.
  • On 25 May 2020, an antibody test was made available for NHS organisations to test their staff.  It can be used to identify if someone has been infected with Covid-19 previously through the detection of antibodies that are produced by the body to combat the virus. A positive test only confirms an earlier infection, as long as the person is symptom-free at the time of taking the test. Currently it is not known whether or not the presence of antibodies provides any degree of immunity to Covid-19, or to what degree and over what timescales. Apart from the outcome of the test itself, the results are expected to provide NHS staff with more confidence when it comes to discussing returning to work or the type of work they undertake. Either way, all NHS staff would continue to follow infection prevention and control rules, including the use of personal protective equipment. To find out more about how to have an antibody test, staff are asked to speak with their line managers who will have details of the arrangements being made for staff testing in their organisation.

Testing is being made available in the following two main ways:

  1. You can refer yourself through GOV.UK’s coronavirus self-referral page. This will generate a text message and enable you to register for either drive through or home testing
  2. Your employer can refer you for testing; they can also refer directly if they register themselves by emailing

Please ensure you let your employer know if you are self-referring or would like them to refer on your behalf. At the current time home testing is not available through employer referral.

Drive through testing is only open to people with a booked and confirmed appointment letter, at the designated time. Under no circumstances should anyone travel to a testing location without a confirmed booking.

A national testing facility has been set up at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, with further mobile units being rolled out across London that will support testing for staff in services such as care homes.

When you register for a drive through test, you will be asked to provide your postcode so you are offered the closest options; it is expected that any new sites will also be able to be booked in this way.

If you or someone in your household does not have access to a car, you should not use the drive through tests (taxis or public transport should also not be used). Instead you should seek to request access to home tests – however it is important to note capacity for these is limited nationally.

Results will always be sent directly to the person being tested. It is expected, and their responsibility is, to discuss the result with their employer as part of their return to work conversation.  It is important that organisations know the outcome of the test and offer further support and – if negative –support individuals returning to work.

People with negative results should only return to work if they feel well enough to do so. If everyone with symptoms who was tested in their household receive a negative result, health and care staff can return to work immediately, providing they are well enough, and have not had a fever for 48 hours.

If a household member tests positive, but the staff member tests negative, they can return to work on day eight from the start of their symptoms if they feel well enough and have not had a fever for 48 hours.

If the staff member does not have symptoms but a household member tests positive, the worker should continue to self-isolate in line with national guidance.

There is a Coronavirus Testing Call Centre for health and care staff who have been referred or booked a test themselves – 0300 303 2713 (open daily from 8.00am to 8.00pm).  The call centre team does not offer medical advice, so staff feeling unwell should call NHS 111 and in a medical emergency, dial 999.