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Government 'abandons' care home testing pledge
2 August 2020, 16:49
The Government has abandoned its pledge to test care home residents regularly throughout the summer after 'unexpected delays', reports suggest.
Ministers pledged to test all staff and residents in care homes regularly throughout the summer, but the delays have pushed back the date which homes for older people and those with dementia were due to receive the service, a report in the Sunday Times has claimed.
Regular testing of almost two million residents and staff was supposed to have begun on 6 July, but the latest developments are "plunging the test and trace system into chaos," according to the piece.
It claims that a leaked memo, sent on Friday evening by the Government’s adult social care testing director Professor Jane Cummings, confirmed that capacity for regular testing would not be reached until 7 September - the end of the summer season.
Professor Cummings told local authority chiefs that “previously advised timelines for rolling out regular testing in care homes” were being ditched.
A separate memo circulated among health officials last week, which confirmed that only 3,271 of 9,144 homes for the elderly and sufferers of dementia have been sent testing equipment.
A senior public health official told the newspaper that more lives would “undoubtedly” be lost as a result of the delays.
Experts on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) have been demanding regular testing in care homes for weeks, claiming it will prevent people with no symptoms spreading the virus between homes.
It follows reports that prime minister Boris Johnson has ordered officials to work-up a plan for avoiding a second national lockdown, with drastic measures including a ban on travel outside the M25 for Londoners.
The newspaper reported that he held a "war game" session with chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday to run through possible options for averting another nationwide lockdown that could spell disaster for the UK's economy.