The British Medical Association and Royal College of Nursing have called on the government to give health staff priority over rapid tests.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said ministers expect the need to “constrain” supply for two weeks to “manage” surging demand.
Current government guidance for NHS workers in England states those who are a contact of a Covid-19 case must test negative via a PCR test and take lateral flow tests for 10 days after the contact – with tests taken before their shift on days they are due to work.
The medical association have said key medical workers should come first with lateral flow to ensure the NHS is not overwhelmed with staff absences.
The NHS uses the same system to order tests as the public, making the surging demand hard to keep up with.
Latest data showed 18,829 staff at NHS acute trusts in England were off work due to Covid, either through sickness or self-isolation, on 19 December. Up to date figures will be released this week.
Javid also told MPs that supplies of lateral flow tests in January and February will be tripled from pre-Omicron levels to 300 million per month.
It comes after weeks of test shortages as the country geared up for Christmas. Boris Johnson encouraged the public to take tests when visiting relatives.