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‘Putting lives at risk’: Ministers deny coronavirus tests for care home inspectors

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Ministers have denied care home inspectors access to weekly testing for coronavirus – despite fears they could contribute to the spread of COVID-19 as cases rise across the country, The Independent can reveal.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) was told by the Department of Health and Social Care last month it could not have access to regular testing for inspection teams as the watchdog prepares for 500 inspections of care homes during the next six weeks.

Officials said the teams, who are assessing care conditions for the vulnerable and elderly, did not get close enough to people to present a risk.

During the first wave of the virus, after Public Health England initially said there was no risk to care homes, an estimated 16,000 residents died from the virus.  At the height of the crisis up to 25,000 NHS patients were discharged to care homes by the NHS, with many not having been tested for the virus.

Labour MP Barbara Keeley said: “The refusal of the Department of Health and Social Care to treat CQC inspectors in the same way as other staff going into care homes puts lives at risk.”

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Source: The Independent, 20 October 2020

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