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Here’s how to get a cheap lateral flow when free testing ends in the UK

The health service will stop handing out LFTs from April 1

Ed Cunningham
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Ed Cunningham

Approve of it or not, the UK has ditched pretty much all remaining Covid regulations over the past couple of months. And that means that lateral flow tests, which are currently free, will start costing money.

Friday (April 1) will mark the end of free testing for the general public in England, with retailers expected to start making tests available to order online. Scotland will also end testing on April 18, while in Wales free testing will be available for people with symptoms until the end of June. Northern Ireland is yet to confirm its plan for phasing out free LFTs.

For people who still want to get tested, high-street pharmacy Boots is already offering individual LFTs for as much as £5.99, with four for £17.99. Superdrug, meanwhile, has priced a single LFT at £1.99 and a pack of five at £9.79. The pick of the bunch, however, is Medisave, which is pricing individuals latty flows at just 99p. 

Other pharmacies and similar high-street brands are likely to follow suit. While the UK government initially hinted that tests would cost between £2 and £5 each (or £20 for a pack of seven), it recently confirmed that retailers will be able to price them as high as they choose. Cue a massive, totally predictable surge of companies looking to further cash in on a public health crisis. 

So why do we even still need LFTs? Well, it’s likely that you might still need proof of Covid status for travel to certain countries. Or you could, of course, still be a bit wary about visiting elderly or vulnerable people when you’re feeling a little ill, and want to make sure you’re not carrying a potentially deadly virus. 

If you’re an NHS or case worker, are clinically vulnerable and/or over the age of 75, LFTs will remain free in England. 

You can find tests on the Boots website here, Superdrug here and Medisave here. Or, of course, if you’re eligible you can order them for free from the UK Government LFT site.

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