Leading care home groups have warned it will be weeks before they are able to resume routine COVID-19 testing after they were advised to stop using a test kit.
The news comes after care homes were told earlier this month to stop using Randox test kits over safety fears.
In a letter to relatives this week, Andrew Knight, CEO of Care UK, said optimism following the government’s announcement of regular testing for care homes had proved “short-lived”, adding that it could be five weeks before most of the group’s services in England were able to access another round of testing.
Care UK, which said communication with the government had been “sorely lacking”, has written to the Department of Health and Social Care, the Social Care Taskforce and the Care Minister over the issue but has yet to receive a response.
Andrew, who added Care UK had suffered “significant challenges” with ordering tests through the government’s social care testing portal, said access to the government’s rolling testing programme “just hasn’t materialised”.
Leading not for profit care home operator, MHA, meanwhile, said it had been without testing for over two weeks because of safety issues with the Randox test.
CEO, Sam Monaghan, said: “To say that we are disappointed and frustrated by this latest failure in the care home testing regime is an understatement.
“We are now heading into our third week of no testing for the majority of our care homes following the Randox debacle and we understand it will be weeks before it is rectified.”
A number of care home groups have said they are having to delay care home visits as a result of the lack of regular testing.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Care home testing has not stopped, any care home resident or member of staff with symptoms will continue to be able to immediately access a free test. Protecting care home residents and staff has been one of our top priorities during this unprecedented pandemic and we are issuing at least 50,000 tests a day to care homes across the country, prioritising high priority outbreak areas.
“A combination of issues have meant that a more limited number of testing kits, which are predominantly used in care homes, are currently available and we are temporarily constrained in our ability to do as much asymptomatic testing as we want.
“We are working around the clock to ensure there is minimum disruption to repeat asymptomatic testing and get our capacity back on track as soon as possible.”