Almost nine in 10 COVID-19 tests taken in care homes in England missed the government’s 48-hour target in September, according to a report.
The Guardian revealed that 87% of tests of residents and staff at satellite testing centres took more than two days.
The regular weekly and monthly testing of staff and residents, respectively, was fully launched in September after being delayed over the summer.
A spokesperson for HC-One, the UK’s largest care home provider, said that while testing delays were reducing, 231 test results took more than seven days between 26 September and 2 October, involving 35 homes.
A spokesperson said: “While increased community transmission rates mean some of our homes are experiencing outbreaks, our data shows that in most of these cases only a small handful of people are COVID-19 positive. We believe this is due to homes implementing our enhanced infection control measures which contain the virus before it has a chance to spread. The weekly testing programme also means we can identify cases early, particularly when the only people affected are asymptomatic, and take robust action to contain the virus.
“This reiterates how regular testing is vital in helping to control and contain the virus. However, routine testing is only effective if we receive timely results. Like many providers, we have experienced delays in receiving some test results, with some homes waiting more than seven days for results to return which increases uncertainty and anxiety for our local teams, residents and their families. Fortunately, the situation is improving but it must be a priority for all care home test results to be returned as quickly as possible. It is only through routine and responsive testing, combined with robust infection control measures, that we can mitigate the risk of further transmission and protect the residents in our care.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Turnaround times are improving and the latest figures for satellite testing show a six-fold improvement within a month.