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Testing for coronavirus in UK care homes a ‘complete system failure’

Care home operators have accused the UK government of “a complete system failure” over testing for COVID-19 after officials repeatedly deflected responsibility for the task and left vulnerable residents unchecked.

As ministers admitted it will be more than three weeks before all homes are offered tests, care home managers said lives have been put at risk and conditions for dementia sufferers worsened because of the government’s failure so far to test hundreds of thousands of staff and residents.

The programme was announced by the health secretary, Matt Hancock, two weeks ago but only tens of thousands of people have been tested.

Public Health England (PHE), the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) have repeatedly passed the buck about who should carry out the tests, according to correspondence with care homes seen by the Guardian.

When Nottingham Community Housing Association (NCHA) tried to get tests for its care home residents and staff, a PHE official said it didn’t know anything about testing residents, before pointing them to the CQC. PHE then changed its mind again saying it would send the tests, but when they failed to arrive, PHE reversed again saying CQC was responsible.

“It is very frustrating because we can’t effectively manage the risk without knowing [who has the virus],” said Holly Dagnall, director of homes and wellbeing at NCHA.

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Source: The Guardian, 12 May 2020


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