Just one in five social care workers have been able to access testing for COVID-19, a survey has found.
The survey of 31,262 National Care Forum (NCF) members found that just 6,469 were identified as a priority for testing due to having symptoms and of these only 1,436 (22%) were actually tested.
Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the NCF, 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.
“We are calling for the prioritisation of social care employers through the Getting Tested Portal to ensure they have a strategic and targeted prioritisation of all their employees – regardless of symptoms as previously promised by the government and for social care workers to be given priority status on the self-referral portal.”
Of the screening routes available, the NCF said local testing systems appeared to be the most effective where they were in place with 715 staff (11%) successful through this means. The NCF said systems were hugely variable and inconsistent across areas, however.
The self-referral portal was found to be the next most effective route, while still only servicing 9% (583) of staff, with the employer portal proving the least effective, with only 2% (138) able to access a test at drive-through centres and no home testing available.
One member commented: “We have not had any success with the employer portal. Despite several emails being sent to register we have not heard anything back at all. Therefore, none of our staff have been able to be tested through this process.”
The NCF survey comes after the government announced last week it was opening up testing to all care home staff and residents.