The government has announced that all care home residents and social care staff with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms will be tested.
According to the Department of Health and Social Care, all care staff who need a test will now have access to one and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will contact all 30,000 care providers in the coming days to offer tests.
The Whitehall department said today’s announcement is the first part of the government’s social care plan, which is expected to be announced tomorrow (16 April).
In addition, the government said all patients discharged from hospital to be tested before going into care homes as a matter of course.
The announcement follows warnings by charities that some care home residents are being ‘abandoned to the worst that coronavirus can do’.
‘We have already begun testing social care workers and will roll this out nationwide over the coming days,’ said health secretary, Matt Hancock.
‘And as we continue to ramp up our testing programme, we will test all current care home residents with coronavirus symptoms and all new care home residents who are discharged from hospital into care,’ he added.
‘Testing is key in our battle against coronavirus, and as part of our plan to prevent the spread and save lives we will ensure that everyone in social care who needs a test can have a test.’
But Dr. Layla McCay, a director at the NHS Confederation, said the country’s testing capacity is ‘far from where it needs to be’ to meet the ambition of 100,000 a day in just over two weeks.
‘We need absolute clarity from the government on how this will be achieved in such a short space of time otherwise it will be viewed as a false promise,’ said Dr. McCay.
‘Also, if we are to understand and beat this virus we need to understand how and where it is spreading, and for the frontline to be protected. That is why the number of deaths in care homes should be released daily in the same way as they are for hospital deaths and why the workforce must be given better access to PPE.’
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