The NHS Confederation has warned staff working in the NHS and social care staff need tests for coronavirus now, as ministers announce plans to ramp them up to 100,000 a day.
Health secretary Matt Hancock announced yesterday (2 April) that the Director of Health Improvement for Public Health England (PHE), Professor John Newton has been appointed to coordinate ongoing efforts to increase the number of tests being carried out for coronavirus in the UK.
Mr Hancock said new testing centres have been established at the main hotspots of the disease, and more than 152,000 tests have aleady been carried out.
He also said the government would scale up swab testing in PHE labs and NHS hospitals for those with a medical need and the most critical workers to 25,000 a day by mid to late April.
Responding to the news, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, Niall Dickson, said NHS and care staff ‘need tests and they need them now’.
‘We have too many doctors, nurses and other staff off work because they do not know if they or a member of their household have the virus or not,’ added Mr Dickson.
‘This is a sensible plan which should bring in safe and effective tests at pace. Testing staff at home in household quarantine must be the priority in the coming weeks.
‘The NHS has yet to see the massive surge in cases but the numbers are rising and we must brace ourselves for that – testing is not everything but it is a vital weapon in our armoury, it helps protect staff and patients and in the weeks and months ahead it will help us contain the virus. We very much hope the new blood test showing whether someone has had the test will come soon – that too will be vital,’ he added.
‘Writing off NHS debt is excellent news. It may seem academic when we are fighting the greatest battle of the NHS’s history, but this will make a difference now given the pressures the service has been under and offers the prospect of a much brighter future going forward.’
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