News, Policy & Media

17Jun

Call for NHS staff to be tested for COVID-19 twice weekly

The President of the Royal College of Surgeons has called for NHS workers to be tested twice weekly to avoid false negative results jeopardising the safety of healthcare staff and patients. Professor Derek Alderson made the comments about the UK testing regime at a Health Select Committee meeting, saying that such a move was vital to assure patients that staff are not unwittingly passing on coronavirus to others in their workplace settings. He said: "It's absolutely essential to regain public confidence that we are able to test our staff regularly." His reasoning was based on evidence that virus testing are not currently a perfect method of picking up on all positive coronavirus cases.

A study from the University of Bristol has found that as many as 30% of positive cases could be missed by a single swab test examination. A negative result should not, therefore, be given as a guarantee of a lack of infection in an individual, the scientific team concluded. "It will always be essential to have multiple tests," Prof Nicola Stonehouse, a virologist at the University of Leeds, told the BBC. Professor Alderson maintains that the DHSC has sufficient capacity to continue regular testing, the primary question remains over how to ensure those at the most risk can be assured of prompt and regular testing services. Weekly testing of the entire health service would amount to 100,000 tests being carried out per day. A spokesperson from the DHSC stated that retesting would be "guided by clinical advice on relative priority and available testing capacity".

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