The government has today pledged that a COVID-19 test will be made available to “everyone who needs one” in social care.
Under the plans, all social care professionals with COVID-19 symptoms, including home care staff, will be tested for the virus.
Care home residents displaying symptoms will also be tested, as will patients being discharged from hospital to a care home. However, home care clients have been omitted from the government plans, a decision the United Kingdom Home Care Association (UKHCA) says makes “no sense”.
The measures, confirmed today, are expected to be outlined further in the government’s COVID-19 social care action plan tomorrow.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said: “I am deeply conscious that people in residential care are among the most vulnerable to coronavirus. We are doing everything we can to keep workers, residents and their families safe, and I am determined to ensure that everyone who needs a coronavirus test should be able to have access to one.
“We have already begun testing social care workers and will roll this out nationwide over the coming days. 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.”
Commenting on the plans, UKHCA chief executive Jane Townson said: “UKHCA has been lobbying for weeks for increased testing for COVID19. The government has finally woken up to the fact that this is vital for protecting high risk people receiving care and their careworkers. It is also important for maintaining workforce capacity.
“Omitting homecare clients from their testing plans makes no sense. Anyone discharged from hospital, whether to care homes or homecare, needs to be tested to minimise spread of infection and to ensure limited supplies of PPE can be targeted effectively. We are not convinced the testing capacity is yet sufficient to do all that the government claims in their statement. Time will tell if this is wishful thinking.”