Almost two-thirds of care homes have had no staff tested, data shows - despite government's promise of universal testing by early June

Health secretary Matt Hancock promised universal testing by early June

Peter Stubley
Sunday 31 May 2020 15:08
Comments
Care home chief executive Jeremy Richardson says staff need testing on a weekly basis

Only 15 per cent of care home staff have been tested for coronavirus since the start of the outbreak, according to data which suggests the government is failing to meet a key target.

Health secretary Matt Hancock pledged on 15 May that every elderly resident and member of staff in England would be tested by “early June”.

However research by the Data Analysis Bureau (T-DAB) and Person Centred Software revealed that by 27 May nearly two-thirds of homes had still not had any staff members tested.

Just six per cent of care home staff were tested in the seven days leading up to that date.

“The rate of testing of care home staff has picked up in the last week but is still far too slow to get close to the target set by the government,” said Simon Briscoe, director of T-DAB.

“Testing is far below the rate demanded by industry bodies and targeted by government.”

It follows research showing less than one in four residents have been tested for coronavirus since the start of the outbreak.

More than a quarter of all deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales have happened in care homes, while social care workers are dying from Covid-19 at about twice the rate of the general population, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The T-DAB study looked at a sample of 12,407 staff members from 650 care homes across England, Wales and Scotland.

It found that between the date of Mr Hancock’s announcement and 27 May, 9 per cent of care home staff had been tested. The figure for England was slightly higher at 10 per cent.

Just 15 per cent of care home staff have been tested at any time since the outbreak.

Sixty-two per cent of care homes have not had any staff members tested since the beginning of the pandemic up to May 27, T-DAB said.

Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, said on Friday that testing in care homes had to be prioritised following the launch of the NHS test and trace programme.

“We need a rolling programme of testing, both for residents and also for staff, so this is something that is a huge logistical issue,” he told the BBC Breakfast programme.

A Department for Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We have the capacity to deliver up to 30,000 tests a day for whole care-home testing, and are currently prioritising care homes and areas with greatest need.

“We are testing all care workers and residents, whether they have symptoms or not, and since the start of the pandemic nearly 213,000 workers in care settings and over 192,000 care home residents have been tested through DHSC and Public Health England testing routes. We have now launched the online care home portal to make booking tests for staff and residents even easier.”

Additional reporting by agencies

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in