The National Care Forum (NCF) has called for 200,000 routine and regular tests per day across the social care sector to get on top of the coronavirus pandemic.
The call comes as the organisation publishes the details of a new member survey, which shows that just 3,466 care staff and 4,619 residents have been tested between 23 April and 14 May.
The survey also found the speed at which test results are returned varies widely.
According to the NCF, for the majority of testing routes for staff and residents, this is between 24 hours and six days.
Results from home testing kits were much faster than other testing routes for both staff and residents, ranging between 24 hours and four days.
However, a large number of test results are returning ‘void’ or ‘inconclusive’ owing to delays in obtaining results or faulty tests.
Earlier this week, the UK government announced that everyone in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms can now get a test.
A cross-party group of MPs has also warned this week that the testing capacity for coronavirus has been ‘inadequate for most of the pandemic so far’.
The NCF’s executive director, Vic Rayner, said there are currently 30,000 tests available to care homes, which equates to 300 care home per day receiving tests.
‘This is in no way near enough of the amount of tests required for the care sector,’ said Ms Rayner.
‘We need to see at least 200,000 routine and regular tests each day in the care sector alone. The speed and quality of the testing process is currently a postcode lottery and doesn’t appear to be based on need. Some of our members are being told they won’t be tested until 6 June which is much too late.
‘We are asking for more tests to be made available for care providers to make sure that the government holds to its promise to keep the most vulnerable and those who care for them safe during this pandemic. Now is not the time to lose that focus and drive. We need to focus on testing for social care, making sure that the tests are processed quickly, the results are accurate and they come back promptly,’ she added.
‘Along with the increase in the number of tests for social care, it is clear that we need to see an improvement in the quality and accuracy of the testing process and analysis so we can make proper use of the results.’
Photo Credit – PublicDomainPictures (Pixabay)