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NHS Confederation demands ‘clarity’, as Hancock promises tests for care sector

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Care Homes Care providers have been calling for more testing for weeks, with outbreaks at more than 2,000 homes

The NHS Confederation has issued a plea for more government transparency on testing for the COVID-19 virus. The organisation, which represents health care providers was responding to Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s pledge to roll out testing to all care home residents and staff with COVID-19 symptoms.

‘The offer of more tests for social care staff is desperately needed as this sector has been suffering in silence during this pandemic,’ said Dr Layla McCay, Director of the NHS Confederation.

However she stressed that further improvements must be made – not just within the care sector, but across the entire system, if the Government expects to fulfil its promise of achieving 100 000 tests per day. ‘We need absolute clarity from the Government on how this will be achieved in such a short space of time, otherwise it will be viewed as a false promise’, she announced

In response to widespread concern about outbreaks in care homes, where deaths are said to be being ‘airbrushed’ from official statistics, the Government has announced plans to expand testing to all residents and staff displaying symptoms. This will replace the current system of only testing the first five symptomatic residents, to determine if there has been an outbreak.

"Testing is key in our battle against coronavirus and, as part of our plan to prevent the spread and save lives, we will ensure that everyone in social care who needs a test can have a test," Mr Hancock said.

Dr McCay argued that specific alterations that should be made to improve the current situation. She announced that care home death figures should be released on a daily basis, in the same way as hospital deaths are currently reported, and that better access to personal protective equipment is needed for health workers. ‘If we are to understand and beat this virus, we need to understand how and where it is spreading and for the frontline to be protected’.

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