Homecare Association chief executive Dr Jane Townson has called for care staff to be prioritised for PCR test results.
Dr Townson (pictured), who was speaking following reports that some carers were waiting more than a week for results, said prioritisation would help maintain workforce capacity amidst ongoing pressures that were being exacerbated by the Omicron COVID variant.
She told the Press Association that testing results had been “very patchy” across regions with London “very problematic”, adding staff shortages had been made worse by slow turnaround times.
Dr Townson said she had raised the issue with the Department for Health & Social Care (DHSC), adding: “I’ve made the point many times to the department – that they shouldn’t announce policies without it being possible to actually implement them in practice, because it creates another whole load of issues.”
In reported examples of delays, one staff member in Wimbledon, South London, who took a PCR on 23 December, was still awaiting results on 31 December.
Another care worker in Basingstoke, Hampshire, was told to travel to Newbury in Berkshire to get a walk-in PCR test, but discovered their local centre was “completely quiet” when they supported a client to get tested.
The UKHSA has been asked to comment.