Getting a COVID-19 test

There are two different types of COVID-19 testing available and it is important that you access the right one:

  1. Tests for people with symptoms (symptomatic testing or PCR); and

  2. Regular testing for people going out to work who don't have symptoms (symptom-free testing or LFT)

This page provides information on how you can access these testing programmes in Wakefield.

For information on the national vaccination programme, please click here

Testing for people with symptoms

If you have at least one of the three main COVID-19 symptoms you must self-isolate immediately and get a PCR test. The key symptoms to look out for are:

  • A high temperature;
  • A new, continuous cough; and
  • You've lost your sense of smell or taste or it has changed.

The easiest way to get a PCR test is by accessing the national system: Get a free NHS test to check if you have coronavirus - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

You can also use this service if:

  • You've been asked to get a test by a local council;
  • You're taking part in a government pilot project;
  • You've been asked to get a test to confirm a positive result;
  • You've received an unclear result and were told to get a second test;
  • You need to get a test for someone you live with who has symptoms; or
  • You're in the National Tactical Response Group.

PCR Testing is available in the Wakefield District at the following locations:

  • Waterfront Car Park, Wakefield (WF1 5JT); and
  • The former Castleford Swimming Baths (WF10 5DX).

Test sites are open 7 days a week. The two sites in Wakefield are 'walk up' sites, so you can walk, cycle or drive to them and walk through the site for your test.

If you drive to the sites then please park considerately. There are 5 parking spaces on site for people visiting the Castleford Baths so please use these first.

We also have mobile testing units at different sites in the District throughout the week. These are 'drive through' sites so you need a car to use them. The national website will ask you if you have a car when you book an appointment.

If you prefer to order a home delivery test kit you can do this through the same national website. The kit will then need to be returned by post.

 You can also visit test sites in other local authorities. The national website will advise you on the nearest site with convenient appointments.

If you have symptoms and struggle to access a test through the national system, you can contact our local service. More information is here.

Regular testing for people without symptoms

We are supporting the roll out of regular lateral flow testing for key workers in the Wakefield district who are unable to work from home during lockdown and have no symptoms (asymptomatic).

Lateral flow testing is much more convenient than PCR testing as it can be done on the spot and gives a result in 30 minutes. It can help to reduce transmission in your workplace by identifying people who have COVID-19 without showing any symptoms, before they are able to spread the virus to work colleagues.

Although lateral flow testing is fast and convenient, it is less reliable than the PCR tests that are offered to people with symptoms. We are promoting it as a method of regular testing for people who do not have symptoms as a way of helping to prevent the spread of the virus.

The following tabs provide additional information on how to get lateral flow tests for yourself or your employees:


Book appointments at your community test sites

If you cannot work from home during lockdown and do not already access testing at your place of work, you have the option to attend a community testing site for regular tests. This is most likely to apply to staff working for smaller local businesses, sole traders and the self-employed as well as those in the voluntary sector.

We ask that anyone accessing community testing commits to attending testing twice weekly and we encourage employers to support staff in doing so. Community testing might be a long term option for you, or a temporary solution while your employer sets up workplace testing.

We currently have a site open at Wakefield College which offers appointments throughout the day, at early evenings and at weekends.

You can book an appointment here.

Additional sites will open at Castleford and Kinsley from the end of February. Appointments at these locations can also be booked using the above link.

If you cannot work from home during lockdown and do not already access testing at your place of work, you have the option to attend a community testing site for regular tests. This is most likely to apply to staff working for smaller local businesses, sole traders and the self-employed as well as those in the voluntary sector.

We ask that anyone accessing community testing commits to attending testing twice weekly and we encourage employers to support staff in doing so. Community testing might be a long term option for you, or a temporary solution while your employer sets up workplace testing.

We currently have a site open at Wakefield College which offers appointments throughout the day, at early evenings and at weekends.

From Tuesday 23 February 2021, a second site at Holywell Lane in Castleford will also provide the same range of appointments.

On Wednesday 24 February 2021, testing will also be available at Kinsley and Fitzwilliam Community Centre. This site will operate on a part time basis, with appointments available on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings and on Wednesday and Friday evenings.

You can book an appointment at any of these sites by clicking here.


Self-testing at home

Unfortunately, we are unable to offer self-testing at home through our community testing programme, as this is only available to specific groups of people who are participating in a national pilot. We realise this is frustrating and that many small business employees will struggle to attend a site regularly.

We do hope that self-testing at home will be rolled out more widely in the future, and Wakefield is keen to participate in any additional national pilots that are offered.

If any opportunities for home testing become available we will publicise these to our smaller businesses and sole traders, but at present we must follow national guidance from the Department of Health and Social Care. 

Work based testing

For those organisations that do not fall in the school sector and who have employees on site that cannot work from home during lockdown, there are two main options to access testing. These are:

  • Utilising community test sites; and
  • Setting up testing at your own workplace.

It is important to note that while there is support available to set up a testing site at your place of work, the Council is unable to run testing for you. There are a number of elements you will need to consider carefully when deciding to set up testing at your place of work. This includes:

  • Staffing - You will need to consider carefully how you will provide staff or volunteers to undergo training and operate the test site. The training required is available online, takes a few hours and staff / volunteers running the tests do not need any clinical qualifications. The Council cannot provide funding to cover any additional costs, though.
  • Equipment – Test kits and PPE are provided free of charge by the Council, though you will need to provide additional consumables such as test tube racks and Perspex screens (where these are required).
  • Waste disposal – Your organisation will also need to put in place appropriate waste collection provision. The Council can offer this service if your existing contract does not cover chemical or offensive waste, though there will be charges associated with it.

We are aware that some organisations are exploring options for sourcing equipment outside of the provision made available by central and local government.

If you intend to do so, please note that a wide variety of lateral flow devices (LFDs) are available on the market and their reliability varies greatly. The testing programme supported by DHSC and local authorities uses Innova, the only LFD which has successfully passed detailed evaluation by Public Health England. Some other devices are undergoing trials at PHE and may be added to the national programme in the future, but at present we cannot advise on the reliability of any LFD other than Innova.

Remember, if your employees have any symptoms of possible COVID-19 then they must self-isolate and get a PCR test through the national Government website: Get a free NHS test to check if you have coronavirus - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

This applies even if they have had a recent negative lateral flow test. This form of testing is an additional tool to prevent the spread of the virus and is not a replacement for social distancing, hand washing or other national guidance.

The tabs below outline options for larger businesses, if your business employs less than 50 people, please see additional advice under Community Testing.

Larger businesses retain the option to signpost staff to community sites, instead of running their own testing, if this is preferable.

Businesses with more than 250 staff

Large employers with 250+ staff are being encouraged to participate in a national roll out of testing, where tests and support will be provided centrally.

We would encourage all our businesses to register an initial interest using this link: Register to order coronavirus tests for your employees - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Although testing is being rolled out nationally, we are keen to ensure that our large employers in Wakefield have access to these tests in a timely manner, so we would be very grateful if you could keep your lead officer at the Council informed on the progress of your application and any concerns or questions that you have.

If there is a significant delay in the national system, you should talk to your lead officer about alternative options for accessing testing.

We are happy to try and answer general queries about lateral flow testing via our single point of contact: lateralflowtesting@wakefield.gov.uk.

Businesses with between 50 and 250 staff

All businesses with more than 50 staff are eligible for the national programme, and if you wish to offer testing at your workplace we would strongly encourage you to register an initial interest here: Register to order coronavirus tests for your employees - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

We would also be very grateful if you could keep us informed of the progress of your application either by liaising with your lead officer or by emailing lateralflowtesting@wakefield.gov.uk, so that we have an understanding of how many businesses in the District are rolling out lateral flow testing and how quickly this is happening.

We have limited local capacity to support medium sized businesses to set up workplace test sites through our local authority lateral flow testing programme.

The local scheme is suitable for medium sized businesses who have been unable to access the national programme or who want to explore a different approach (for example, there may be interest in setting up a single test site to serve the employees of all businesses on a business park or industrial estate).

In general (as with the national programme), we can provide training, set up and a supply of tests, but businesses are expected to bear the associated costs such as staffing, PPE, venue hire and waste disposal.

If you wish to explore this option then please contact the team on lateralflowtesting@wakefield.gov.uk.

Please bear in mind that if we have more expressions of interest than we have capacity to meet in a timely way, we will have to ask some businesses to wait. We would, therefore, encourage businesses to register an interest on the national portal in the first instance.

If you would like your employees to be tested but feel unsure about running your own workplace testing, you can also encourage and support them to attend a community testing site. Please see the tab above for more information.

Please note that testing (either workplace based or through attending a site) is not compulsory, so you may wish to consider how best to encourage your employees to get tested regularly – for example, by allowing them to attend a test site as part of their paid working hours. An appointment for symptom-free testing takes a maximum of 15 minutes and we have community sites in Wakefield, Castleford and Kinsley. 

Businesses less than 50 staff

We know that our smaller businesses may not have the volunteers or physical space available to facilitate on-site testing. We are more than happy for these organisations to encourage staff to attend a community test site as is outlined above.

In addition, we have limited capacity to support workplace testing and may well have to prioritise enquiries if there is high demand. We would therefore encourage any organisation employing less than 50 staff to consider using the community sites, particularly if you are keen to access testing quickly.

We will, however, do our best to facilitate on-site testing wherever appropriate. If your business is close to the 50 employee threshold and you would like to discuss setting up testing at your site, please do contact the team on lateralflowtesting@wakefield.gov.uk for advice and support. We are also keen to hear from you if you have a proposal which involves a number of small businesses working together to provide a test site for staff.


Early Years

Some nurseries and other similar settings will have received testing either for use at home or on site through a national Department for Education programme (see previous tab).

For those who do not have access to testing through the national programme, the Council is able to provide support either through our network of community sites or (for eligible organisations) by helping you to set up your own test site at your workplace.

To express interest in setting up testing at your workplace, contact the lateral flow testing team at lateralflowtesting@wakefield.gov.uk. For information on community testing sites, use the tab further down on this page.


Schools

All schools should now be receiving lateral flow tests. All staff should have the opportunity to test twice weekly but participation is voluntary.

The tests are delivered and the national programme is managed by the Department for Education.

Primary schools and managed early years settings staff are being offered twice weekly tests to do at home.

Secondary schools staff have the opportunity to do twice weekly tests on site.

Your school's Head Teacher will have more information about your school's participation in the programme.

If you have queries or concerns, or if you are a Head Teacher (or nominated testing lead for your school) seeking further support around lateral flow tests, please contact: lateralflowtesting@wakefield.gov.uk