Covid-19: Testing Kits for Care Homes

Health and Social Care – in the House of Commons on 23rd June 2020.

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Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West

What progress his Department has made on delivering covid-19 testing kits to care homes.

Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

We are doing all we can to help care homes control and prevent covid outbreaks, and the majority of care homes have not had outbreaks. Testing is an important part of that. On 11 May, we launched a programme of testing all staff and residents in care homes, starting with older people and those with dementia, based on public health guidance. We met our target of offering tests to all these care homes by 6 June, which involved sending more than 1 million test kits to 9,000 care homes. We are now getting tests out to all the other Care Quality Commission-registered care homes for adults that ordered them on the testing portal.

Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West

Further to what my hon. Friend has said, will she confirm that there is a rolling programme to test for covid-19 in our care homes? Recently, a care home in my constituency had a whole-home test and found that someone was positive. When it then asked for another test for everyone, it was told by NHS England that it was not eligible, and that cannot be right.

Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

I will say two things on that. First, when a care home has a new outbreak, either for the first time or after having recovered from a previous outbreak, it should contact its local health protection team to arrange for initial testing of symptomatic residents, in order to confirm the outbreak. The local health protection team or the director of public health can then refer the care home to the national testing team so that it can be prioritised for whole-home testing.