Suffolk pharmacies to offer Covid-19 testing ahead of centre closures

Covid-19 rapid testing centres targeting people who unwittingly have the virus are to open in Haverhill and Lowestoft

Pharmacies in Suffolk are now offering free Covid-19 rapid testing kits - Credit: Suffolk Resilience Forum

Community pharmacy teams in Suffolk are now offering free rapid Covid-19 testing kits – as 10 council-run sites are set to close this week.

The new Pharmacy Collect service will see lateral flow kits readily available for free from NHS pharmacies, to coincide with the closure of 10 sites run by Suffolk County Council.

The centres in Brandon, Debenham, Elmswell, Eye, Hadleigh, Halesworth, Holbrook, Nayland, Needham Market and Saxmundham all close on Friday, April 16.

Each box contains seven kits – which public health officials say will prove vital in identifying Covid-positive cases in the community.

Among the pharmacies offering the kits is Clare Pharmacy in Clare, where pharmacist Nick Smith said the team is "really excited" to help launch the service.

Mr Smith said: “Our family-run pharmacy has been offering local public health services for over 40 years and my patients appreciate us being open and available to talk to even in these difficult times.

“There is so much that pharmacists and their teams can do to help our communities as the Covid restrictions are eased.”

Clare Pharmacy is one of the NHS pharmacies offering the lateral flow kits

Clare Pharmacy is one of the NHS pharmacies offering the lateral flow kits - Credit: Google Maps

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Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk County Council, urged the public to begin testing regularly.

He said: “Testing plays a vital role in the fight against coronavirus, as up to one in three people who have it don’t show symptoms.

“The Pharmacy Collect service makes getting a lateral flow test easy for people as pharmacies are at the heart of our communities.

“Testing, along with vaccinations, and following the current guidance is how we will get through this pandemic and schemes such as this which enable people to get a test as easily as picking up a prescription are to be welcomed.

“I urge the public to play their part in the fight against Covid-19 by testing regularly. This is a scheme that will help them to do so.”

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk - Credit: Suffolk County Council

Tania Farrow, chief officer for the Suffolk Local Pharmaceutical Committee, added: “Community pharmacists are looking forward to doing their bit as people return to work and education.

"This is just one of many examples of how pharmacy teams have helped support patients, the public and the nation during the pandemic.”

A map of participating pharmacies can be found on the NHS Test and Trace Site Finder map, available here.