Shine news

Covid 19 (Coronavirus) - Information for Shine Members: April 2022

1st April 2022


If you have been affected by the current situation and are in need of Shine's services, click on the link below to find out how we can support you at this difficult time.

We are committed to continuing to deliver our support, advice and information services for you.

Shine's services

Regular updates on Covid-19 (Coronavirus) can be found below.

January 2022 | December 2021  |  July 2021  |  May 2021  

March 2021  |  February 2021  |  January 2021  |  December 2020 

November 2020  I  October 2020  |   September 2020  I  August 2020 

July 2020  I  June 2020  I  May 2020 |  April 2020  I  March 2020

COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

1st April 2022

1st April 2022

From today (1st April 2022) the rapid coronavirus tests known as Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) will no longer be universally free of charge, and testing for people with symptoms of coronavirus will also not be routinely performed.

The groups who will continue to have access to free LFTs when they have no symptoms are:

  • Patient-facing staff in the NHS and independent healthcare providers to the NHS
  • Hospice staff, and staff in adult social care services e.g. care homes and home care
  • A limited number of care home visitors giving personal care
  • Staff in some prisons and places of detention
  • Staff in high-risk domestic abuse refuges and homeless shelters

The groups who will continue to have access to tests when they have symptoms are:

  • Patients in hospital where a test is needed for clinical management
  • People at higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 who are eligible for certain treatments. People in this group will be contacted and sent LFTs to keep in case of symptoms, they will also be given details for how to reorder tests.
  • People living or working in certain high-risk settings e.g. some NHS, social care, and prison/detention settings

During “an outbreak” free LFTs will be extended to residential special needs and schools for disabled young people and to care home staff, residents, and admissions. And should a new variant of concern emerge the government are keeping stockpiles of LFTs so the universal free testing could be brought back if they decide it is necessary.

For everyone else, from 1st April 2022, LFTs will be available to purchase from pharmacies and approved government suppliers. Boots are currently selling Flowflex LFTs at £2 for a single test, £3.95 for a pair of tests, £7.90 for pack of four or for £9.80 for a pack of five, packs of 25 are also available for £49.99. Superdrug are selling the same tests for £1.99 (single test) and £9.79 (5 pack). Prices in Lloyds Pharmacy are slightly cheaper at: £1.89 for single tests, £3.75 for two tests, £7.49 for four tests, or £9.29 for a packet of five. Currently no guidance has been issued on testing for those who are unable to afford these prices and the reality is they will not be affordable for many people on lower incomes and benefits. Those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 (or who have vulnerable relatives and friends) will have to spend the most money to conduct tests. This means the most significant impact of the change will be on those who have already been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Some of the other effects of the removal of free LFTs may be that coronavirus spreads more rapidly among people who cannot afford to test, and that those with relatives in care homes may no longer be able to afford to visit as often if new negative test results are required for each visit. We don’t yet know what the impact of the changes in testing will be on the social care sector.

Shine is looking into ways we can join with other organisations who are campaigning to keep testing accessible to those who most need, and who can least afford them. By working as part of larger alliances we will maximise our impact. 

In the meantime, coronavirus cases, hospitalisations, and deaths are rising again. Coronavirus is currently extremely prevalent in the UK. The recent removal of all protections such as the requirement to isolate when infected, coupled with a more transmissible virus variant means that coronavirus is spreading easily. The scaling back of wider testing in April will lead to an apparent drop in recorded cases, but not detecting the virus isn’t the same thing as it not being there: infection levels are likely to remain high, we just won’t be measuring the levels accurately.

The scrapping of the free LFT programme is a blow and one that will not be easily changed.

However, there are still many other things we can do as individuals to help prevent spreading and catching coronavirus, including:

  • having all doses of the vaccine when eligible, you can book and manage vaccines & booster appointments on the NHS website. Vaccines, including the booster, take time to work so you won’t get the full benefit of the vaccine until three weeks after receiving it and will need to be more cautious till then.
  • keeping contact with people outside your household to a minimum – in practice what this means will be different for everyone. You need to decide what the best balance is for you between managing COVID risk against your own social needs and wishes.
  • keeping your distance from others and limiting the duration of contact
  • spending time with others outdoors rather than indoors where possible
  • ventilating indoor spaces with fresh air
  • wearing face coverings (FFP3 / N95 masks offer the most protection)
  • avoiding busy places and times
  • wash your hands frequently 
  • use the NHS COVID app
  • self-isolating if you have symptoms or have a positive test
  • looking after your general health as best you can, for more information see our March 2021 update

It’s worth noting that a negative LFT result does not guarantee that you do not have COVID-19, a positive test is almost certainly correct but a false negative result can happen much more easily – you may be infected but the virus is not yet detectable, or you may have collected the sample incorrectly. The safest way to approach things is to act as though you, or anyone else, might be infectious. Whether or not you are able to test and whether or not the result is negative – acting like you might be infectious can help everyone be more cautious. 

In this new phase of "living with coronavirus" we will all need to make our own judgements about how to best balance the risks from COVID versus our other needs, wants, and responsibilities. How this works in practice will be different for us all, and will likely change regularly based on the things going on in our lives and an on the levels of coronavirus circulating in the community. Checking the weekly figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) can help you make judgements about COVID risk. The ONS survey gives an indication of coronavirus infection levels and trends as measured by large-scale, random, community sampling. There is a lag between when the samples are collected and the data is released but it’s still a useful indicator of how prevalent coronavirus has been recently and if levels are increasing or decreasing. At Shine we will continue to monitor the situation and share any key information our members need to know.  

COVID Symptoms Updated

The list of COVID-19 symptoms has been expanded to include several new symptoms we need to be aware of:

•  high temperature or shivering (chills) – a high temperature means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
•  new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
•  loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
•  shortness of breath
•  feeling tired or exhausted
•  aching body
•  headache
•  sore throat
•  blocked or runny nose
•  loss of appetite
•  diarrhoea
•  feeling sick or being sick

The NHS website has more information about COVID symptoms.

How do I look after myself or someone I care for if they have COVID-19?

The NHS have produced a comprehensive guide to looking after yourself or someone else with coronavirus at home. The guide also includes information about when and where to get medical help if you need it.

 Am I vulnerable to COVID-19?

There’s no evidence that having spina bifida or hydrocephalus alone automatically increases the risk from coronavirus, or that the vaccine should be less safe or effective in those with the conditions. However, other associated conditions, that some of our members have, can increase coronavirus vulnerability. See our February 2021 update for more information.


Related Stories

Donate Become a member