Hospitals: Coronavirus

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered at on 15 April 2024.

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Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Conservative, New Forest West

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment her Department made of the potential risks of discontinuing routine covid-19 testing of hospital patients prior to their discharge to care homes before.

Photo of Maria Caulfield Maria Caulfield The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)

The public health advice is that now is an appropriate point to end routine asymptomatic discharge testing for COVID-19, and move to a risk-based approach. A reduction in the severity of illness associated with the omicron variant, coupled with a high uptake of the vaccine among residents during the autumn COVID-19 vaccination booster, continued provision of infection prevention and control guidance, and the upcoming increased eligibility for COVID-19 treatments, demonstrates a reduced level of risk from COVID-19 in adult social care settings. In addition, epidemiological studies, and consensus reports from the early phases of the pandemic, suggest that hospital discharge was not dominant in the ingress of COVID-19 into care home settings.

The UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) guidance on safe discharge and management of individuals with symptoms of an acute respiratory infection remains in place, and this will be kept under regular review. National Health Service trusts will have local discretion to re-introduce discharge or other forms of testing where clinically appropriate, following a risk assessment involving local authority public health teams, UKHSA Health Protection Teams, and care providers, as necessary in the decision making.

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