This guidance has been reviewed by the Health and Care Information Governance Panel, including the ICO and NDG.

The panel exists to simplify information governance guidance. Have we done a good job? Let us know at england.IGPolicyTeam@nhs.net.

Access to Care Home Staff COVID-19 Test Results

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This guidance is to assist Care Home managers when dealing with information relating to staff testing for COVID-19. Those eligible to take a test include residents who live in Care Homes, Children’s Homes run by the Local Authority or Learning Disabilities residential services. It also includes the staff who work in these settings. Further information about who is eligible can be found here



Guidance for patients and service users

As a service user you will be aware that staff in health and care organisations may be taking COVID-19 tests during the outbreak. This guidance provides advice on how staff test results should be accessed by their employers to safeguard staff confidentiality.


Guidance for healthcare workers

If you work in a care home you may be invited by your employer to get a COVID-19 test. Tests are entirely voluntary and you cannot be forced to have a test. 

A positive or negative test result may mean you need to take further action. If positive, you  may need to self-isolate, if negative, you can return to work. 

Employers can ask you if you have been tested (and if so the result of the test). However, you  do not have to disclose if you have had a test or the result, unless:

  • This impacts on your working ability (e.g. if you need to self-isolate for 7 days, your employer will need to make plans to manage your absence)

  • There is a possibility COVID-19 was contracted in the workplace which would require your employer to report this to the Health and Safety Executive (as part of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995)

If you decide to have a test and are registered for testing by the Care Home, it would be helpful if you are present with the manager when the test is booked so you can provide accurate contact details for the test. You should also ensure that you receive a text/email verification message when you book a test and flag to your manager if you do not receive this.


Guidance for IG professionals

COVID-19 tests are entirely voluntary. Staff may be invited by their employer to get tested but cannot be forced to have a test. Employers can ask staff if they have been tested (and if so the result of the test). However, employees do not have to disclose if they have had a test or the result, unless:

  • This impacts on their working ability (e.g. if they need to self-isolate for 7 days, the employer will need to make plans to manage their absence)

  • There is a possibility coronavirus was contracted in the workplace which would require the employer to report this to the Health and Safety Executive (as part of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995)

When staff are registered for testing by the Care Home, the Manager who books the test:

  • Must not input their own contact details, or generic Care Home contact details for receiving the staff results

  • Should input the staff member’s contact details. Ideally, staff should be present with the manager when the test is booked so that the individual being tested can provide accurate contact details for the test

Staff results must go to staff first, before potentially being shared with the Home manager. Under no circumstances can Home managers receive staff test results before the staff member.

Accessing results without the knowledge or permission of the staff member is a breach of confidentiality and is illegal under the Data Protection Act 2018 (Section 170 - unlawfully obtaining personal data). This should not happen under any circumstances. Monitoring and reporting measures should be introduced to ensure this. If the record is accessed without permission of the individual, it should be reported immediately. If access continues following the publication of this guidance, then it should be reported as an IG breach through local reporting measures including reporting to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) where necessary. 

Non-clinical staff should have no need to access test results. Dashboards have been made available to support local analysis of COVID-19 data. If a staff member tests negative, then there is no need for the employer to know this, as this will not change the employee’s behaviour. In addition, staff who test positive will inform their employer through their need to self-isolate and this way the employer can take necessary actions to support staff. In all cases, access to test results should only be required for legitimate and necessary reasons.

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