Just 22% of carers needing a Covid-19 test can get one, research says

Support us and go ad-free

Just 22% of social care workers considered a priority for a Covid-19 test have been able to access one, research by a body representing the sector has found.

A survey by the National Care Forum (NCF) found that out of a sample of 31,262 care staff, 6,469 were in urgent need of testing due to having symptoms of the virus.

But despite a government pledge made on 15 April that all frontline care workers in need of a test should have one, only 1,463 – or 22% – had received one.

In its Social Care Action Plan, the government claimed: “There is now capacity available for every social care worker who needs a test to have one, just as there is for NHS staff and their families.”

The survey results came from the staff at 38 UK-based social charities drawn from the NCF’s 120 member organisations.

The NCF found that backlogs in the employer portal system for referring staff resulted in just 2% being able to access testing at drive-through centres via this route.

One NCF member told the organisation they first applied to register onto the portal on 27 April but had still not been contacted as of 4 May.

“I phoned on May 1 to be told there was a backlog with registration onto the portal and I had to wait – the contact couldn’t give me a timeframe,” they said.

The NCF survey found the self-referral system to be more effective, with 583 of the 1,463 tested receiving a test via this means, although this figure only accounts for 9% of those in need of testing.

One of the main flaws in the self-referral system, the NCF said, was that care workers are not prioritised and are therefore competing against other key workers and the wider public.

It found that accessing a test through local health services was the easiest route, with 715 of those tested doing so locally, but described the availability of test slots as “a postcode lottery”.

Vic Rayner, NCF executive director said: “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.”

The NCF now wants to see care workers prioritised on both the employer-referral and self-referral system regardless of whether they are symptomatic.

Support us and go ad-free

Do your bit for independent journalism

Did you know that less than 1.5% of our readers contribute financially to The Canary? Imagine what we could do if just a few more people joined our movement to achieve a shared vision of a free and fair society where we nurture people and planet.

We need you to help out, if you can.

When you give a monthly amount to fund our work, you are supporting truly independent journalism. We hold power to account and have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence the counterpoint to the mainstream.

You can count on us for rigorous journalism and fearless opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right wing mainstream media.

In return you get:

  • Advert free reading experience
  • Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
  • 20% discount from our shop

 

The Canary Fund us