A Western Isles system to ensure local residents have full and direct access to the UK Government Testing Scheme will be fully implemented next week, says NHS Western Isles.

The national testing system, which introduces testing and contract tracing to anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 over the age of five was launched this week. Symptoms of COVID-19 include a new, persistent cough, high temperature or loss or change in taste or smell.

The national testing system is separate to the local testing arrangements, which remain in place and are working effectively in the Western Isles.

Eligible Western Isles residents can currently access the national system through NHSInform by a system of postal self tests. To ensure full access to the scheme, NHS Western Isles will be launching an enhancement next week, whereby those with COVID-19 symptoms, can go online/telephone to book a test locally.

These tests will be carried out by healthcare staff in the Western Isles and will be processed on the mainland. Results will be returned to NHS Western Isles, who will contact patients individually once results are received back.

Different arrangements have been required for the Western Isles, and other island Board areas, as regional drive through and mobile testing units are not accessible to our residents.  NHS Western Isles staff have been working extremely hard with national agencies to secure an effective system for local residents that we are satisfied will ensure equitable access to the national testing arrangements.

Details of the online booking form and telephone details to book a test will be communicated next week. In the meantime, postal self test kits are available by going online to NHSInform.