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Just 22% of care workers able to access testing

Less than a quarter of care workers have so far been able to access testing for coronavirus, according to a new survey.

The survey by the National Care Forum of its members found that despite 6,469 workers being identified as being a priority for testing, due to having symptoms, less than a quarter (22%) have been actually tested.

The Department of Health and Social Care announced last month that it was expanding its testing programme.

And as part of the expansion, all NHS staff, care home staff and care home residents will be eligible for testing whether or not they have symptoms.

But the National Care Forum survey found that the employer portal is not working for social care employers.

Only 2% (138 out of 6,469) of staff were able to receive a test at drive-through centres, with no home testing being available on the system via this route.

The self-referral portal appeared to prove more successful with 583 staff managing to get a test via this route.

Out of this number, 546 attended drive-through appointments but only 37 received home testing kits.

This route, whilst proving more successful, only enabled 9% of the staff who needed testing to obtain a test.

Local testing systems, such as locally organised testing by PHE Teams or local authorities, seem to be the most successful, according to the Forum.

Around 715 members of staff have managed to access testing through local systems. However, this is only 11% of the total number of staff who need testing (715 out of 6,469).

The Forum said local testing systems remain hugely variable and inconsistent across localities – where they work well, testing is effective and efficient and responsive.

‘The government’s promise to provide tests for all staff is exposed as pure words. Social care needs to be systematically prioritised in each and every testing system, in order for government to live up to its commitment,’ said the Forum’s executive director, Vic Rayner.

‘We are calling for the prioritisation of social care employers through the Getting Tested Portal to ensure they have a strategic and targeted prioritization of all their employees – regardless of symptoms as previously promised by the government and for social care workers to be given priority status on the self-referral portal.’

Photo Credit – Jarmoluk (Pixabay)

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