After thousands of coronavirus deaths in care homes, government announces regular testing programme for staff and residents

Support us and go ad-free

Staff and residents in care homes for people over 65 or with dementia will be regularly tested for coronavirus (Covid-19) from week beginning 6 July, the government has announced.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced a new social care testing strategy on 3 July. As part of the strategy, staff will be tested weekly, while residents will receive a test every 28 days. This is in addition to intensive testing in any care home facing an outbreak or at increased risk of a flare-up, the department added.

The repeat testing programme will be rolled out over the next four weeks to all care homes for the over-65s and those with dementia which have registered to receive retesting. It will be extended to the entire care home sector from August.

At least 14.7k coronavirus deaths in care homes

There have already been at least 14,658 deaths linked to coronavirus in care homes across England and Wales. This figure only indicates deaths registered up to 19 June, according to the latest Office for National Statistics data. The real figure is likely to be higher. The government has faced criticism for failing to protect care homes from the virus. Health secretary Matt Hancock said:

Our response to this global pandemic has always been led by the latest scientific advice from world-class experts, and we will now offer repeat testing to staff and residents in care homes, starting with homes for elderly residents before expanding to the entire care home sector.

A National Audit Office report last month claimed that around 25,000 hospital patients were discharged into care homes in England at the height of the pandemic without all being tested for coronavirus. Care homes have also been plagued with critical shortages in supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

HEALTH Coronavirus ONS

 

Results from study

The new testing strategy comes following the latest advice from the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and new evidence indicating a higher prevalence in care homes, the DHSC said.

The Vivaldi 1 study, which surveyed almost 9,000 care home managers and analysed data from care home testing, identified higher levels of the virus among care staff – particularly among temporary staff working in multiple care settings, the department added.

The new repeat testing programme was welcomed by care sector leaders, who said it was “absolutely essential” to support care homes managing the spread of infection.

Care England chief executive Professor Martin Green said:

The testing programme is one of the cornerstones of Covid-19 prevention, and we are pleased that the Department of Health and Social Care has recognise this, and responded with a comprehensive approach to repeat testing.

Vic Rayner, executive director of National Care forum, said:

Access to repeat and regular testing is absolutely central to support care homes in managing the spread of infection within care homes.

Testing has proved to be a vital tool in the box for providers and the continued expansion of the testing regime is essential.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us