Care homes are STILL waiting for Covid tests after weeks of asking

Care homes are STILL waiting for Covid tests after weeks of asking – as government rushes out kits to all residences where people are all aged over 65

  • Government still ‘on track’ to offer testing at every such home by end of today
  • Dozens of residences also say they’ve been given void and inconclusive results
  • Data shows the number of people dying in homes was up 61% in March and April 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Care homes are still waiting for coronavirus tests despite weeks of asking, while dozens more who sent off samples ended up receiving useless results. 

The government pledged to offer testing for residents and staff at every care home for the over 65s by June 6 – today – and insists it is still on track to meet that target despite fresh concerns from industry bosses. 

Almost half (43 per cent) of the 264 homes which responded to a survey by the National Care Forum (NCF) said they’d been given void and inconclusive results.

Care homes are still waiting for coronavirus tests despite weeks of asking (stock picture)

Another 12 per cent said they were still awaiting results while some 13 per cent had not even been given a home testing kit, as of Tuesday. 

There have even been ‘hundreds’ of cases of results going missing, according to BBC Radio Four’s Today programme. 

It comes as government data showed the number of people dying in care homes soared by 61 per cent during March and April as the Covid-19 outbreak gripped England and Wales.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures showed hospital deaths fell by 21 per cent between March 7 and May 1, while they rose 43 per cent in private homes.

In a first-of-its-kind report, statisticians said undiagnosed cases were a ‘likely explanation’ for many of the 13,000 excess deaths not directly linked to Covid-19.

But it also acknowledged that thousands of people may have avoided getting medical help out of fear of catching the virus or adding extra strain to an already over-stretched NHS.

The government insists it is on track to offer testing for residents and staff at every care home for the over 65s by June 6 – today. Pictured: A paramedic holds a test tube containing a blood sample at an antibody testing program

ONS data shows a large spike in the number of people dying in care homes in April, the peak of Britain’s coronavirus crisis, as thousands fewer people died in hospitals during that time

Care home bosses are also concerned at a lack of commitment to regular testing, particularly once lockdown ends and staff or visitors not showing symptoms could unknowingly have the virus and be spreading it among vulnerable residents.

Other findings from the NCF survey included the majority respondents saying less than 10 per cent of staff and residents who tested positive were asymptomatic, though a few outliers reported a higher range of between 40 and 60 per cent.

Furthermore, most care homes said that between 30 and 60 per cent of residents who had symptoms tested positive for the virus.   

Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the NCF said: ‘Testing of all those receiving care and the staff delivering it has been recognised as an absolute priority. 

‘Our survey results highlight some key lessons that we have learnt from this first round of testing in terms of accuracy, timeliness and frequency. 

‘It is clear that there is a need to improve the accuracy and timeliness of the results from testing to enable social care providers to respond quickly to manage and prevent Covid-19 infections.

‘Our findings also highlight key insights into the number of Covid-19 positive tests in asymptomatic staff and residents which emphasises why it is absolutely vital that we move to regular and repeat testing as it is an essential tool in the fight against Covid-19.

‘The findings related to the proportion of symptomatic residents who are not testing positive reinforces the need for regular, repeat testing to avoid unnecessary isolation and the impact this has on the mental health and wellbeing of residents.

‘We welcome the positive step the government is taking with its announcement that it will be rolling out whole care home testing with plans to extend the testing to a wider range of care settings.’

A spokesman for the Department for Health and Social Care told MailOnline the government was still ‘on track’ to meet the target.

Further details are expected to be announced in the coming days. 

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