Council leader calls on Boris Johnson to deal with ‘impossible situation’ of care home staff testing

Nearly a third of Covid-19 tests for care home staff in homes in Portsmouth are not having a result sent back, it is claimed.

The leader of Portsmouth City Council has written to the Prime Minister about the “impossible situation”.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson is calling on Boris Johnson to get the Test and Trace system to “work properly”, saying the current situation is “just not good enough”.

In the letter, he says: “I have been told today that 30% of Covid-19 tests for care home staff in Portsmouth City Council care homes are not having a result sent back. I was shocked by this, but was told that this situation is improving.

“It is an impossible situation for people to run care homes safely and efficiently if they do not get the results of Covid-19 tests sent back accurately and in a timely way.

“A 30% failure rate in sending back test results is just not good enough.”

He says he is “extremely worried” that a lack of an effective tracing system means it will become increasingly difficult to run the care sector this winter.

“If staff have to wait for test results that do not arrive, and cannot work until they do, the number of people who are available to work in care homes will be put under great stress.

“This could lead to a disaster.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “NHS Test and Trace is processing tests at an unprecedented scale – on average over 225,000 a day over the last week – and turnaround times are improving.

“We continue to prioritise care homes for repeat retesting, and any care home resident or member of staff with symptoms is able to immediately access a free test with more than 120,000 sent out every day.

“Through our Adult Social Care Winter Plan, we are providing free PPE to care homes and have ring-fenced a further £546 million for the Infection Control Fund to prevent infections – bringing the total to £1.1 billion.

“This is on top of the additional £3.7 billion to councils to address pressures caused by the pandemic.”

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