Care home bosses angry at delay in covid-19 testing kits for staff and residents
PUBLISHED: 05:37 14 August 2020
Care home bosses in Norfolk are urging the government to deliver on its promise to protect them amid problems securing covid-19 test kits needed for staff and residents.
Executive members of Kingsley Healthcare, which is based in Lowestoft, has 30 homes across the country, including two in Norfolk and three in Ipswich.
Eugene Nyamande, director of compliance, said they have been chasing kits through the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Care Quality Commission, Norfolk County Council and Public Health England “without any success”.
He said the DHSC had reported a “capacity issue” and was unable to give the group delivery dates.
Mr Nyamande said: “The government’s plan was designed to ensure that care homes have a test and trace mechanism in place to minimise the risk of an outbreak affecting the most vulnerable members of our society.
However, since the introduction of the process, we have ordered testing kits via the government portal but have only very recently received about 10pc of the monthly required number of test kits to cover our needs as a group nationally.
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“We have a duty of care to our staff and residents and the lack of appropriate testing measures in place gives us as a provider grave concerns as the country has begun to open up and localised hotspots are being identified.”
He said the government also needed to refine its latest guidelines regarding family visits to care homes.
The group’s CEO Daya Thayan added: “With an increasing number of experts now predicting a second wave of the virus, possibly worse than the first one, it is imperative that the government delivers on its promise to protect care homes.”
Steve Dorrington, who owns care homes in Dereham, Watton and Wells, has been waiting since July 6 for tests and received a box of 300 for the Dereham home on Wednesday.
He said: “The tests do give confidence to residents, their families and our staff if everyone is confirmed negative. We have so far kept clear and hope to stay that way. I understood they had abandoned weekly tests as it was a logistical nightmare. My biggest worry is running out of PPE if the cases rise and we all have to lock down again.”
In response the Department of Health said a combination of issues had meant a more limited number of testing kits and was working to increase adult social care asymptomatic retesting to reach all care homes by September 7.
A department spokesperson said: “We are doing all we can to ensure tests are available, issuing 50,000 every day to care homes across the country while working around the clock to minimise any disruption.
“Any resident or member of staff with symptoms can immediately access a free test and we are continuing to increase the amount of testing in care homes, including on asymptomatic staff and residents.”
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