Jewish care homes struggle to get coronavirus tests

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Jewish care homes struggle to get coronavirus tests

Government failing to deliver promised virus swabs, with one care provider having received a 'small number' of tests and another saying it had a 'poor and limited' experience

The community’s top health and social care provider this week revealed it’s received only a “small number” of the promised virus swab tests for its residents nationwide.

Jewish Care’s chief executive Daniel Carmel-Brown said on Wednesday: “Since the government announcement at the end of April that all care home residents and staff can now be tested for Covid-19, regardless of symptoms, to date we have only received a small number of tests for our residents.”

The charity is pushing to obtain more tests “to better meet the needs of those in our care”.

Authorities and MPs contacted by the care provider have all been “sympathetic” to its needs, Carmel-Brown said. “While we have seen testing rolled out across a handful of our homes, it has been inconsistent in others. We eagerly await any guidance on how more tests will reach us,” he added.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson said at prime minister’s questions on Wednesday that the number of deaths among residents at care homes in England has been “too high” as he unveiled a £600million package to control the virus.

When approached for comment, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The government is working around the clock to make sure care homes and our frontline care workforce are getting the support they need to protect residents.

“We have built the largest diagnostic testing industry in British history from scratch and all care home staff and residents can now be tested, whether they have symptoms or not, with tens of thousands already tested.”

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The department has widened capacity and expects up to 30,000 daily tests will be made available to residents and staff at all elderly care homes, whether they are showing symptoms or not, by early June.

In Manchester, the Fed initially had a “poor and limited” experience of testing in the period leading up to 20 April, but it has since noticed significant improvements and received help from the local authority. Mark Cunningham, chief executive of the leading social care charity for the city’s Jewish community, told Jewish News: “We are also able to test our residents on the same day if they become symptomatic. Our situation is now stable but we are not being complacent.”

The charity executive himself tested positive for the virus last month but was well enough to return to work last week.

Some 100 members of staff of a workforce of 400 have been off or in isolation since 23 March, he said. Out of the 70 staff tested, nearly half (30) had tested positive.

Cunningham added: “All care homes need access to testing that is timely and accessible to minimise any further loss of life.”

A spokesperson for Nightingale Hammerson said in a statement on Wednesday: “Securing tests for all our residents and staff is a key priority.  We are successfully getting residents with symptoms tested via our GP service and continue to chase daily for the testing kits promised two weeks ago for all other residents.

“Staff are being successfully tested by our human resources team, who have applied for home kits via the government online portal and that process remains ongoing.”



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