Care home staff facing week-long wait for results amid calls for increase in testing

Testing in care homes must be increased to twice weekly and extend to family members of residents in order to keep residents and staff safe, the chief executive of Scottish Care has said.

Wednesday, 14th October 2020, 12:30 pm
Care home staff are facing long waits for Covid-19 test results
Care home staff are facing long waits for Covid-19 test results

Dr Donald Macaskill, speaking on BBC Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, said the testing system in place was not working and was “fragile”, but placed the blame on the UK Government’s network of Nightingale laboratories failing to keep up with demand.

He added some care home staff tested on the same day could receive their results within a day or two while another staff member could wait more than a week.

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Dr Macaskill said this lead to a “disinclination” of staff to get tested while still waiting for their first result.

He said: "I think it is amazing that the 37,000 care home staff are still committed to weekly testing and yet the UK-dominated system is not working.

"We are very grateful the Scottish Government is going to take testing in house, but that is going to take some time to set up.

"It is unfortunate that having worked quite successfully in the summer, just at the time that we’re seeing cases rise in the community, the testing system is now so fragile.”

The care sector’s representative added that around 8,000 tests are being transferred from UK-lead testing labs to local NHS Scotland labs, but that it would take until mid to late November for the system to be fulling in place.

He said the move to create more testing capacity was “critical”.

Dr Macaskill said: "It is really critical because as we have been arguing, we need to move to a situation where we don’t just have one weekly test but that we have two weekly test.

"We need to move to a situation where we start testing a-symptomatic care-at-home staff in the community and critically, family members to enable them to visit their relatives."

"What we should be concerned about is making sure we get testing working so people can visit their family, staff can be safe and critically residents can be cared for in the way in which they deserve.”

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