We’re calling on the Government to continue free tests for people who are eligible for Covid treatments and to extend this to their households and personal contacts - regardless of whether they have symptoms.
What’s the government’s plan for living with Covid?
From 1 April, the Government is ending free Covid tests in England, except for people at highest risk of severe illness. This means family members, friends and carers run the risk of exposing vulnerable people to infection, unless they can afford to pay for a test.
Governments in other UK nations have not yet finalised plans for the future of testing. We want to share with them why it is so important to continue with adequate access to free testing.
What does this mean for people with kidney disease?
There are 1.3 million people eligible for treatments like antivirals if they get Covid, including people with kidney disease. This is because the government’s identified these people as at highest risk of severe illness.
Around 500,000 of these people are immunocompromised. This means it’s less likely they received the same amount of protection from Covid vaccines. This group includes people with kidney transplants or people who take immunosuppressant drugs for another reason.
Current Government guidance suggests people at highest risk should consider asking friends and family to take a rapid lateral flow antigen test before visiting you. We believe this is offers vital protection and reassurance for people with kidney disease, but it relies on access to free testing.
Speaking up for people with kidney disease
We're concerned the government is not fully considering the needs of people at higher-risk from Covid.
No one should be put at risk because they can’t afford a test. Protection from Covid should be a right, not a privilege.
Together with MS Society, Blood Cancer UK and other charities we’re urgently calling on the government to:
- continue giving free lateral flow tests to people who’re eligible for Covid treatments. And to extend this to their households and personal contacts – regardless of whether they have symptoms.
- provide new money to the NHS and local authorities to fund regular testing of frontline health and social care staff.
People at higher risk of Covid have varying levels of anxiety about getting to back to normal activities but the encouragement for those around them to test regularly has helped to build some confidence. The removal of free lateral flow tests exposes them to a greater level of uncertainty and inequality and makes it harder to move back into society. It is a retrograde stepFiona Loud Policy Director, Kidney Care UK
Take action now
We won’t stop calling on the government to protect people at highest risk from Covid. But to do that, we need your help.
Email your MP now and ask them to join our call, and give our community the protection it needs.
You can use the MS Society email your MP tool, or download the template letter and find your MP’s contact details here. Please feel free to adapt the suggested wording and add your own experience and views.
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