Government urged to improve testing care home performance
The Government has been told to improve its performance regarding testing after reports circulated of tests provided to members of the public and care homes going missing. Many reported having to wait days or weeks until they were contacted, only to be told that their test sample was unable to be located. Some care homes have even said that bags of tests taken from their residents have been mislaid and no results returned to them. As a result, they had to re-take the tests and send them back for processing.
A Public Health England (PHE) source who works on tracing complex Covid-19 outbreaks told The Independent that these issues “have been happening for months”. In one instance, an entire hospice that had been hit by a coronavirus outbreak was forced to retake all 60 of their residents’ swab tests due them being lost. Nadra Ahmed, chairperson of the National Care Association, said that “it’s wasted time and energy doing these tests that then go missing.”
Ms Ahmed said the NCA has received multiple calls throughout the pandemic from people who discovered entire bags of care home swabs left on the roadside. Consequently, lives have been endangered in the UK and such mishaps may have contributed to the spread of further cases across the country. Courier services have had fingers pointed at them regarding delayed logistics services during the pandemic. Some care providers have reported that courier staff appear to be hurried when making collections as some as paid per pick-up. The DHSC said that it takes all incidents of this nature “very seriously”. A spokesperson added: "If the National Care Homes Association or any other party is made aware of incidents of this nature, they should raise them to NHS Test and Trace for immediate action." It added that over 100,000 tests are successfully sent to labs every day for processing and that the ‘vast majority’ of people do not encounter any difficulties with the test and test result delivery process.