Social care leaders have described the government’s COVID-19 testing programme as “chaotic” and “inadequate” and called for 200,000 checks per day across the sector.
The government has pledged to test all care home residents and staff by early June as it has ramped up its national programme but leaders have warned that the current rate of testing is “inadequate”.
Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the National Care Forum, said: “There are currently 30,000 tests available to care homes, which equates to 300 care home per day receiving tests. This is in no way near enough the amount of tests required for the care sector.
“We need to see at least 200,000 routine and regular tests each day in the care sector alone. The speed and quality of the testing process is currently a postcode lottery and doesn’t appear to be based on need. Some of our members are being told they won’t be tested until 6 June which is much too late.”
An NCF survey of its members who employ 43,152 staff and look after 16,420 residents in care homes found that only 3,466 staff and 4,619 residents were tested between 23 April and 14 May.
Problems with the testing process have also arisen with results taking between 24 hours and six days, while a large number of test results are returning ‘void’ or ‘inconclusive’ owing to delays in obtaining results or faulty tests.
Four Seasons CEO, Jeremy Richardson, earlier this week told the Today programme that testing measures taken by the government were “inadequate”.
Jeremy said: “We need to see this testing rolled out on a regular basis. There are 1.4 million people, give or take, working in social care and all of those people needed to be tested every week.
“The 200,000 tests per day that the government has announced really should be deployed on that basis only into social care.
“But of course you have to test the rest of the country as well so the government needs to scale up testing dramatically.
“Because at the moment the testing isn’t adequate and to simply do a single-point test one would have to question whether that is a benefit to us as the operator or to the government for their statistics.”