At least third of care home residents missing out on monthly Covid tests, new data suggests

At least one third of care home residents in England have not been given a coronavirus test within the last month – despite a Government pledge for regular testing across the sector, new data suggests.

Figures up to October 13 indicate just 61.9% of 32,000 care home residents sampled were tested for the virus in the last 30 days.

It represents the highest figure since June 29, which was 62.0%.

The figure dropped to less 50.0% for a week in July.

This is despite the Government announcing in early July that residents would receive a test every 28 days as part of a new social care testing strategy for people over 65 or with dementia, with a full care sector rollout from August.

The data suggests the percentage of care home residents being tested within the previous 30 days actually peaked on June 25, at 64.5%, but still represents more than one third going without the check.

The research was conducted by The Data Analysis Bureau (T-DAB), based on real time Person Centred Software (PCS) statistics.

The figures also suggest the percentage of care home residents being tested within the month has not dropped below 60% since October 4.

Simon Briscoe, T-DAB director, said: “Until universal and frequently repeated testing of staff becomes policy care home residents remain at risk.

“The rate of testing rose sharply into June as the Government sent roughly 1 million test kits to care homes but a larger and more managed scheme is needed now.

“The many links in the chain of testing have left care home staff having to deal with local public health officials, the NHS, a website and test centres, with the result that testing rates are still too low.”

Preventing mass coronavirus outbreaks in care homes is seen as a key tenet of the Government’s strategy in reducing a second wave, though providers said residents are regularly having to wait more than a week for their results.

Martin Green, chief executive of care home provider Care England, said: ”Regular testing for residents and staff is absolutely crucial, this cannot be over-emphasised.

“This shortfall needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

Mark Adams, chief executive of social care charity Community Integrated Care, said: “From the outset of this crisis we have seen an appalling failure in the provision of testing for the social care sector.

“Today’s revelation will be of little surprise to anyone working in social care.

“Whilst we recognise the many pressures that the Government is facing, we implore them to maintain their focus on fixing and expanding the testing system for social care.”

Christina McAnea, assistant general secretary of trade union Unison, said: “This matches the picture painted by care home workers – testing capacity and coverage are simply not up to scratch.

“There’s a huge gap between Government rhetoric on testing and the reality on the ground. Getting this right is vital to keeping care homes safe over the winter.”

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