Care Home staff waiting almost three days for coronavirus tests are being failed by Ministers in their fight to contain a second wave, Labour has warned.
The party are calling for a guarantee from the Health Secretary Matt Hancock that staff in care homes will receive their Covid-19 test results in 24 hours.
According to the latest week’s data, it takes on average 68 hours, almost three days, for test results to be turned around from satellite test centres, which are predominately used by social care staff.
Ministers have pledged to test care home staff every week and residents every 28 days has sparked a backlog, meaning many care providers are waiting more than seven days for results.
Care homes have reported waiting up to three weeks for their test results.
It comes after the Government was heavily criticised for failing to protect care homes at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic
On June 3rd Boris Johnson promised that test results would be turned around in 24 hours by the end of the month, but three months later this still isn’t happening.
The pandemic has had a horrific impact on care homes, with 15,562 deaths in care homes according to the latest data from the ONS.
The latest data from Public Health England on acute respiratory infections in care homes shows there have been 872 outbreaks of respiratory infections in care homes in England over the past six weeks.
As winter approaches it will become increasingly important for care home staff to be able to quickly separate coughs, colds and flu from Covid-19.
Liz Kendall, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Social Care said: “These figures paint a deeply worrying picture of the spread of the virus in care homes. Infections cannot be allowed to rise any higher and Ministers must get on top of these problems now.
“Care home staff will want to do the right thing and isolate if they test positive to avoid spreading the virus, but when they wait days and sometimes weeks for test results, the results come too late to help drive down infections.”
“We cannot afford for a second wave of the virus to hit our care homes. There must be an urgent review of the testing system for care home staff and Ministers must commit to all care homes receiving their test results in 24 hours, to reduce transmission and prevent a deadly second wave hitting our care homes.”
A Department of Health and Social Care Spokesperson said: “Turnaround times are improving every day after experiencing a surge in demand at the start of September and we continue to work to ensure care homes receive test results more quickly.
“We continue to prioritise care homes for repeat retesting, and any care home resident or member of staff with symptoms is able to immediately access a free test with more than 120,000 sent out every day solely for the care sector.
“Through our Adult Social Care Winter Plan, we are providing free PPE to care homes and have ring-fenced over £1.1 billion to support providers through our Infection Control Fund.”