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Found 59 results
  1. News Article
    Staff working in care homes are to be tested every week starting on Monday, with residents tested every month, the government has said. The expansion of testing comes as a whistleblower at one of the testing laboratories revealed dozens of shifts had been cancelled throughout May and June because of a lack of test samples. Ministers hope that the expansion of testing will help to prevent the spread of infection to vulnerable residents. Read full story Source: The Independent, 3 July 2020
  2. News Article
    The government’s contact-tracing programme failed to reach almost 30% of people who tested positive for the coronavirus in England last week, the latest figures show. Only 70% of the 6,923 people who tested positive for COVID-19 during the period were reached by NHS Test and Trace staff, according to the Department of Health and Social Care. This means that 2,054 people with the virus – and potentially thousands of their close contacts – could not be traced by the new system. The fact that one in four people with the virus had not been reached since the launch was “surprising and worrying”, said Keith Neal, emeritus professor of the epidemiology of infectious diseases at the University of Nottingham. Read full story Source: The Independent, 26 June 2020
  3. News Article
    COVID-19 antibody tests for NHS and care staff are being rolled out without "adequate assessment", experts warn. The tests could place an unnecessary burden on the NHS, the 14 senior academics say in a letter in the BMJ, Last month, the government said it had bought 10 million antibody tests and asked NHS trusts and care homes to make them available to staff in England. Officials say the blood tests - to see if someone has had the virus - will play an "increasingly important role". The group of scientists say as a positive result is unable to prove immunity, the tests offer "no benefit" to hospitals and care staff. The results do not change what personal protective equipment staff must wear, for example. The academics also suggest there is little data on how well the test works for people at highest risk - including people belonging to some ethnic minorities and older patients. Instead, they call for other carefully designed strategies to help monitor the spread of the virus. Read full story Source: BBC News, 25 June 2020
  4. News Article
    Local authorities must be at the heart of contact tracing because COVID-19 is best understood as a pattern of local outbreaks rather than a national pandemic, says Sir Chris Ham and Robin Tuddenham in an HSJ article. Community testing and contact tracing represent our greatest hope for managing the risks to health of COVID-19 until a vaccine and effective treatments become available. Experts in infectious disease base their understanding of this on previous pandemics, and the experience of countries like South Korea and Germany. Work is underway at pace to resume contact tracking and tracing in England. It is understood that this programme will begin in earnest from 18 May following a pilot on the Isle of Wight. This work is a core part of Matt Hancock’s five-point plan for combating COVID-19, in support of some relaxation of lockdown anticipated soon. Whilst the pace is understandable, the methods and approach taken are top down, lack an effective role for key regional co-ordination through the Integrated Care Systems/Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships and Local Resilience Forums, and risk marginalising the essential skills of local authorities, GPs and the voluntary and community sector in place, according to Ham amd Tuddenham. Read full story Source: HSJ, 5 May 2020
  5. News Article
    A contact tracing system has this week been launched in Wales, initially a telephone based process, followed by an online system next week. Anyone who has a positive coronavirus test result will be contacted by a team of contact tracers and asked for details of everyone they have had close contact with while they have had symptoms. From Monday 8th June, a new online system will be used to support the process. People will have the option to use the system to provide details of their close contacts electronically. The system has been trialled in four health board areas over the last two weeks and more than 600 contact tracers have so far been employed, with more to be employed. Health Minister, Vaughan Gething said “Today’s roll-out of the contact tracing element of our Test, Trace, Protect strategy is a significant step forward in the gradual move out of lockdown.” Read full story Source: HTN, 2 June 2020
  6. News Article
    Time is running out to finalise a track and trace strategy that would avoid a potential second surge in coronavirus cases, NHS leaders have said. The NHS Confederation warned of "severe" consequences to staff and patients if the right system was not established quickly and that lockdown measures should not be eased until a clear plan was in place. Contact tracing identifies those who may have come into contact with an infected person, either through an app or by phone and email, so they can avoid potentially passing the disease on. It follows the Prime Minister's pledge to introduce a "world-beating" contact tracing system in England from June. Niall Dickson, chief executive of the confederation, which represents health and care leaders, welcomed Boris Johnson's pledge made at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday. But in a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Mr Dickson said without a clear strategy the UK was at greater risk of a second peak of the virus. He said a strategy should have been in place sooner and if the right system was not instigated rapidly the ramifications for the NHS "could be severe". Speaking on the Today programme, Mr Dickson said: "We are absolutely clear that contact tracing is the right thing to do, it is absolutely critical, it has got to be in place to prevent any notion of a second surge if the lockdown is being further released." Read full story Source: 21 May 2020
  7. News Article
    The UK’s failure to report how many people have recovered from COVID-19 has been criticised by public health experts, who say a huge proportion of cases have remained “invisible” to the health service. Britain is an outlier internationally in not reporting the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 alongside statistics on deaths and numbers of identified cases. Chile is the only other nation not to share this information out of the 25 countries with the highest reported incidence. A failure to monitor those who test positive for COVID-19 outside of hospital has left people feeling unsupported and alienated from the health system, the experts say. There is concern that because the majority of community cases have not been logged in patient records, it will be more challenging to research the long-term consequences of the disease. Prof Devi Sridhar, the chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Not tracking people in the community, for me, [is] so astonishing. These people are completely invisible in the health system.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 18 June 2020
  8. News Article
    A new coronavirus test which could replace the existing a nose and throat swab is being piloted in Southampton. People will be able to simply spit into a pot at home before the sample is sent off to check whether they have COVID-19. If successful, the saliva test could become an alternative to the existing swab which some people find uncomfortable and can provoke coughing and spluttering. Read full story Source: The Independent, 22 June 2020
  9. News Article
    Nurses' leaders want all healthcare employers - including the NHS - to "care for those who have been caring" during the coronavirus crisis. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is calling for better risk assessments; working patterns and mental health care for those on the front line. It warns many may be suffering from exhaustion, anxiety and other psychological problems. The Department of Health and Social Care said support was a "top priority". The RCN has released an eight-point plan of commitments it wants to see enforced to mark the 100 days since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic. Amongst its suggestions are a better COVID-19 testing regime for healthcare workers and more attention paid to the risks posed to ethnic minority nurses. It says employers and ministers "must tackle the underlying causes which have contributed to worse outcomes for Bame staff". Read full story Source: BBC News, 19 June 2020
  10. News Article
    A leading surgeon has said NHS staff must be routinely tested for coronavirus up to twice a week. Prof Derek Alderson, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said it was vital, to reassure patients staff were not unwittingly carrying the virus. But hospital trust bosses say they are still waiting for clarity on plans for regular testing. The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it was focusing on routine testing in care homes. Prof Alderson was speaking at a Health Select Committee meeting about the necessary steps to get all NHS services back up and running. He said: "It's absolutely essential to regain public confidence that we are able to test our staff regularly." It would be "pragmatic" for testing to take place "about twice weekly", he added, because it was known that the available tests were not perfect. Read full story Source: BBC News, 17 June 2020
  11. Content Article
    See the attachment for a downloadable file of the below infographic.
  12. News Article
    Care homes have been ordered to destroy a batch of faulty COVID-19 test kits after it was discovered that the swabs could break off while being used to gather samples from residents’ tonsils and noses. Care home managers were told on Sunday not to use the tests because they had “brittle stems at risk of snapping”. The kits were manufactured by Citotest, a company based in China, and were distributed by the government’s COVID-19 care home testing programme. It is tasked with providing tests for all staff and residents in care settings, not just people displaying symptoms. The affected batch should be destroyed or kept in a safe area clearly marked with warnings not to use them, officials said, adding that the problem emerged on Saturday and they were working as quickly as possible to resolve it. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the batch could have contained tens of thousands of tests and that a complaint had been raised with the manufacturer, with whom discussions were ongoing. “We are aware of an issue with one batch of swab sticks which are being replaced where needed but this does not affect any tests, or the results of tests, previously taken,” a DHSC spokesperson said. “Testing is unaffected and people should still arrive for their booked tests.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 15 June 2020
  13. News Article
    The head of NHS test and trace has refused to give MPs any data on the first six days of the new service, leading health committee chair Jeremy Hunt to warn that a lack of transparency could “destroy confidence” in its work. Baroness Dido Harding, who is leading the new effort, said she was working to validate performance data, which relies on people with COVID-19 symptoms isolating and being called by a team of tracers to identify others they have been in contact with. MPs had wanted to know how many patients had been contacted within 24 hours as well as how many were willing to share their contacts, and the compliance with self-isolation advice. But Baroness Harding said she would not share the information until the UK Statistics Authority was happy with the data and could ensure it can be trusted. The UKSA criticised the government earlier this week over its public use of test results data. Chair of the committee and former health secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was “disappointed” with her refusal and said it was hard for the committee to scrutinise services if it did not have the data, which she had been pre-warned it would ask for. Leaked information on Tuesday suggested only two-fifths of coronavirus patients and one-third of their contacts were identified and contacted by the tracing service. Read full story Source: The Independent, 3 June 2020
  14. News Article
    Large numbers of staff could have been unknowingly spreading coronavirus through care homes, according to the UK's largest charitable care home provider. Data from MHA shows 42% of its staff members who recently tested positive were not displaying symptoms. Nearly 45% of residents who had a positive test were also asymptomatic. MHA operates in England, Scotland and Wales and has fully tested staff and residents in 86 of its 90 homes so far. A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "Our priority is to ensure care workers and those receiving care are protected, and the latest statistics show over 60% of care homes have had no outbreak at all. "We've set out a comprehensive support package for residents and staff, including a £600m infection control fund, testing regardless of whether you have symptoms, and a named clinical lead to support every care home." In total, 7% of MHA staff and 13% of residents received a positive test result. Routine testing is not yet under way. MHA CEO Sam Monaghan told BBC Newsnight: "It is not difficult to imagine that a lot of people may not have ended up dying if we'd had earlier testing and we'd been therefore better able to manage infection control in our homes." Read full story Source: BBC News, 3 June 2020
  15. News Article
    At least 25 people have died at a care home amid claims from an industry body that a council's actions "caused" or "increased COVID-19 deaths". Melbury Court in Durham is thought to be the care home with the highest number of deaths in the UK. County Durham has had the highest number of care home deaths in England and Wales. Durham County Council said it "strongly refuted" the claim by the County Durham Care Home Association (CDCHA). Some patients went from the nearby University Hospital of North Durham to Melbury Court without being tested for coronavirus or after a positive test. A BBC investigation has discovered that in a conference call in late March, council officials were told plans to move hospital patients into care homes without testing would be disastrous. The CDCHA offered to find a specific home or homes where COVID-19 positive or untested people could be cared for rather than have them spread around the network, but this was never acted on and now the CDCHA has calculated there has been an outbreak of coronavirus in 81 of the county's 149 care homes. Maria Vincent, who runs Crosshill Care Home in Stanhope, told the council in March that care homes were not set up to accept COVID-19 patients, and described it as "neglect pure and simple". Read full story Source: BBC News, 2 June 2020
  16. News Article
    NHS pathology labs were given just two days to roll out thousands of antibody tests, amid a push to reach a COVID-19 testing target set out by Boris Johnson. Earlier this month the Prime Minister set a target of having a testing capacity of 200,000 per day by the end of May. Capacity currently stands at 161,000, Matt Hancock has said. Until now there has been very limited use of antibody tests, with most capacity used to deliver PCR tests that indicate whether someone currently has the virus. Antibody tests are intended to identify whether someone has previously had the virus. On 27 May, NHS England and Improvement wrote to local leaders giving them two days’ notice to put in place testing capacity for, and deliver, thousands of antibody tests of staff and patients. In one letter to leaders in the south east, seen by HSJ, the regulator said labs were expected to establish capacity and deliver 6,000 tests daily by 29 May. A senior source from London confirmed to HSJ the region had also been given a target of 6,000. There are seven local regions in the NHS, which would indicate around 42,000 tests per day, which if PCR testing continued at the current levels, could enable the government to meet the 200,000 target. One head of pathology at a trust said: “There is one obvious answer as to why there is suddenly such an urgency to roll this out. While it will be interesting to have the results, there is nothing meaningful we can do with this test data at the moment.” Another trust director involved in the scheme described the antibody tests as having “no clinical value”. Read full story Source: HSJ, 29 May 2020
  17. News Article
    NHS staff at a hospital that has stopped taking new patients amid a COVID-19 spike have lodged a series of concerns, including that they are not routinely being informed of when colleagues test positive for the virus. The concerns were laid out in a letter from union representatives to management at Weston general hospital in Somerset, which is now testing all staff while carrying out a deep clean. Another concern raised by Unison was that priority for testing was not being given to BAME staff. University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS foundation trust said on Wednesday that as many as 40% of staff from a cohort tested after contact with infected patients were found to be positive. The trust’s chief executive, Robert Woolley, told the BBC the figure was from a sample testing last week and authorities were now attempting to understand the scale of the infection. More than 60 patients were found to be infected last weekend. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 28 May 2020
  18. News Article
    A team of 25,000 contact tracers are making their first phone calls to track down people who will be told to self-isolate under a new scheme in England. Tracers will text, email or call people who test positive with coronavirus and ask who they have had contact with. Any of those contacts deemed at risk of infection will be told to isolate for 14 days, even if they are not sick. A test and trace system is also launching in Scotland, where an easing of the lockdown is expected later. The aim of England's NHS Test and Trace system is to lift national lockdown restrictions and move towards more localised, targeted measures. The team will start by contacting the 2,013 people who tested positive for the virus on Wednesday. Read full story Source: BBC News, 28 May 2020
  19. News Article
    Retailers in England selling home antibody tests, including Superdrug and Babylon, have been told to stop sending them out, and labs must not process them, while the regulatory body (Public Health England) examines how well they work. Read story Source: The Guardian, 27 May 2020
  20. Content Article
    Safe zones compromised COVID-19 testing is being used to inform decisions around infection control. If there are people moving into or between health and social care settings (patients or staff), who have tested negatively and are not showing typical symptoms of COVID-19, they will likely be treated accordingly. For example, they may be placed in ‘green’ areas, dedicated for those who do not have the virus. These areas are designed to protect non COVID-19 patients but there is a risk that some patients could have had a false negative test result and slipped through the net, compromising safety measures. A danger of misdiagnosis If clinicians are relying on test results being accurate, people who are experiencing symptoms but are told they are COVID-19 negative may be dismissed or misdiagnosed. In a recent blog published on the hub, patient ‘Sarah’ explains how she was discharged from A&E, following a negative test result, and diagnosed with anxiety. A few days on she deteriorated, needing to be admitted to hospital again, this time by ambulance. She was told by paramedics that, according to her observations, she should have been in a coma. Doctors later confirmed that her initial test result had been falsely negative and that she did have COVID-19. Sarah also expressed concern for the paramedics who were not wearing adequate protection to treat someone with COVID-19, because they were wrongly reassured by the test that she was negative [4]. Impact in the community If members of the public test falsely negatively for COVID-19, there is the risk that they will not isolate and will spread the infection further as they access supermarkets, pharmacies and don’t distance from members of their household. There may also be cases where patients who had a false negative were incorrectly advised they were safe to return to work. For key workers in particular, this would increase the risk of spreading the virus to their colleagues and service users. Impact on mental health and recovery There is a risk that a patient’s mental health and wellbeing could deteriorate if they receive a negative test result but are in fact suffering from COVID-19. This is of particular concern in relation to the significant number who are experiencing a slow and debilitating recovery but have not necessarily needed hospital care [5][6]. We are hearing from COVID-19 support groups that these ‘moderate’ sufferers are often left feeling lonely, depressed and frustrated that they are unable to get back on their feet as quickly as they feel they should [7]. There seems to be little support for this group, particularly where they have tested negatively and their symptoms do not align with the official list of symptoms for coronavirus infection. Some people who were sure they had the virus but received a negative test result, have ended up doubting themselves. They pushed their bodies too hard too soon, causing relapses in symptoms and they have subsequently faced further mental health challenges. In an anonymous account shared on the hub, one patient explains how a false negative caused their mental health to deteriorate. “I thought that I should be physically active if I didn't have COVID-19, so I pushed myself and berated myself when I repeatedly became unable to breath with a pounding heart upon any exertion. I couldn't cope caring for my four children and was in a 'critical' dangerous mental state many times. I self-harmed to try and cut off from feeling so awful.” [8] Concluding thoughts Patient Safety Learning are concerned that false negative test results could present several risks to patient safety and we ask the following questions: How are the number of false negative tests being monitored and is this data being publicly reported? Is adequate research being undertaken to understand the cause/s behind the false negative results? What steps are being taken to reduce the testing problems commonly encountered by healthcare professionals that lead to false negatives? Do staff taking swabs feel adequately trained and supported? Is patient feedback around the ease of the self-testing process being captured and reported on? Is the current support and guidance for people who are home-testing fit-for-purpose and endorsed by human factors experts? What is the guidance for caring for patients in hospitals and care settings when they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 but have tested negatively? What support is available for patients who believe they have had COVID-19 and are experiencing debilitating symptoms weeks later, but may not have been tested or may have tested negatively? A highly accurate antibody test would help to address some of the concerns raised in this blog and provide a clearer picture of the rate of false negatives. When is that likely to be widely available? References UK Parliament, House of Commons Debate: COVID-19 Response, Volume 676, 18 May 2020. https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2020-05-18/debates/8FA78498-C990-4246-A745-AE0F36F7B948/Covid-19Response West, Colin. P, Montori, Victor. M and Sampathkumar, P, Covid-19 Testing: The Threat of False-Negative Results, Science Direct, 11 April 2020. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025619620303657#! Department of Health and Social Care, Coronavirus (COVID-19): scaling up testing programmes, Last Updated 6 April 2020. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-scaling-up-testing-programmes Sarah, My ‘false negative’ COVID-19 test put others at risk, Patient Safety Learning’s the hub, 19 May 2020. The Guardian, ‘Weird as hell’: the Covid-19 patients who have symptoms for months, 15 May 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/15/weird-hell-professor-advent-calendar-covid-19-symptoms-paul-garner; Sky News, Prof Tim Spector: There’s no such thing as a ‘classical’ COVID-19 case, Facebook, 18 May 2020. https://www.facebook.com/skynews/videos/3470045256358345 Facebook, Covid-19 Support Group, Last Accessed 22 May 2020. https://www.facebook.com/groups/625349464716052/?multi_permalinks=636948470222818 Anonymous, ‘False negative’ and the impact on my mental health, Patient Safety Learning’s the hub, 22 May 2020. https://www.pslhub.org/learn/coronavirus-covid19/273_blogs/false-negative-and-the-impact-on-my-mental-health-r2297/
  21. Content Article
    I was experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 and when I became unable to complete a sentence or walk to the bathroom, my GP advised me to go to hospital. I have mental health difficulties and one of the staff recognised me from when I had been admitted previously, following a suicide attempt. I felt that I was treated like a 'frequent flyer' of A&E and that my symptoms were taken less seriously than they would have been otherwise. I was sent home after my tests for Covid came back negative and was told that it was just anxiety. I got much worse over the coming days. If I had tested negative, why was I feeling desperately unwell with all the published symptoms of Covid? I thought that I should be physically active if I didn't have Covid-19, so I pushed myself and berated myself when I repeatedly became unable to breath with a pounding heart upon any exertion. I couldn't cope caring for my four children and was in a 'critical' dangerous mental state many times. I self-harmed to try and cut off from feeling so awful. My physical health deteriorated. The ambulance was called by the GP who had sent a nurse to assess my oxygen levels and the paramedic said I should be in a coma according to my obs. This made me feel less like I was making it up, but it was still in my head despite my husband telling me repeatedly that the results of the test are 30% wrong. The paramedic gave me oxygen and I protested strongly against going to hospital a second time. The paramedic insisted I went, put me on oxygen and reassured me he would ask the hospital staff to relate to me as a patient who was showing clear signs of Covid and that I did struggle with my mental health but that I was doing my best to recover. I also asked the paramedics to inform the hospital staff about my eating disorder so they could gently help me to manage my low blood sugar without judgements and causing me further shame. In the hospital I saw a Dr who confirmed that I did have Covid-19 and that my test must have been a 'false negative'. I had felt judged, dismissed and had doubted myself. The first thing anyone I spoke to asked was whether or not I had had a test and whether it was positive. The negative test result isolated me from calling family and greeting neighbours as I didn't have the energy to go into the false negative answer. I found that saying my test was 'negative' sparked a surge of invalidation of everything I was experiencing. The isolation caused me further significant harm to my mental health. Among other fleeting symptoms I have had overwhelming fatigue, breathlessness, sweats or chills, no smell or taste, a rash, headaches and low mood. After nearly four weeks I am slowly recovering. I am lucky to have a social worker, family support worker and psychologist available over the phone through this period, so I do feel my family and I are supported. But I am interested to know if anyone else has found their symptoms are being quickly dismissed as anxiety when they are sure they have the virus? Or if anyone else feels like they haven't had their symptoms taken as seriously because of their mental health difficulties?
  22. News Article
    People will be asked to self-isolate for two weeks even if they are asymptomatic after coming into ‘high-risk’ contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 – a testing chief has told NHS executives. This marks a change from the official guidance given to users of the government’s contact tracing app – on NHS’ COVID-19 website – which states: “If you do not have symptoms, you do not need to self-isolate at this time.” John Newton, a leader of the UK’s testing programme, would be “directed towards those people at high risk” instead of the wider public. He added the government faces a “huge communications exercise” next week ahead of the launch of the test and trace programme. Giving an update on the test and trace programme – which is due to launch on 1 June – Professor Newton said: “People who are deemed high risk contact of confirmed [COVID-19] cases will be told to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms at the time. Professor Newton said: “The point is there will still be a requirement to contain the virus, but the impact in terms of containment will be directed towards those people at high risk so the rest of the population can enjoy more normal life." He said the programme’s success would depend on the public’s response in terms of: Presenting themselves for a test if they have symptoms; Providing the information needed to identify high risk contacts; and Those people identified as high risk contacts complying with advice to self-isolate. Read full story Source: HSJ, 21 May 2020