Nurses are being let into care homes WITHOUT coronavirus tests in loophole that makes a mockery of the system, warns chairman of National Care Association
- Health workers can walk in and out of different homes without a need for a test
- The situation has been branded an unfair and risky loophole in virus precautions
- But relatives who are granted exceptional ‘end of life’ visits must be tested first
Nurses are being allowed to visit care homes to see residents without being tested for coronavirus, in what has been branded an unfair and risky loophole.
The alarming discrepancy means health workers can walk in and out of different homes every day without any need to prove they are not infectious.
Even inspectors from the Care Quality Commission watchdog have the right of entry to residential homes for the elderly without being tested regularly.
It means that across the 11,000 care homes in England, there will be hundreds of thousands of contacts every week between residents and visiting health staff who have not been tested.
Nurses are being allowed to visit care homes to see residents without being tested for coronavirus, in what has been branded an unfair and risky loophole [File photo]
By contrast, relatives who are granted exceptional ‘end of life’ visits to see a dying loved one have to take tests and have their temperature checked before they are let in. And staff have to take tests every week to keep residents safe.
The Mail is campaigning to allow all residents meaningful personal visits this Christmas.
Last night Nadra Ahmed, chairman of the National Care Association, said the loophole made a mockery of the current system.
She said: ‘It’s a huge anomaly. Anyone coming into a care service should be tested, whether they are an official or a relative. It shouldn’t be one law for them.’ Diane Mayhew, from campaign group Rights for Residents, said: ‘If the Government is saying they’re trying to keep residents safe then they need to test everyone that sets foot in a care home.’
Testing of staff and residents was introduced in July to stop the spread of coronavirus through care homes, after almost 20,000 residents died when the pandemic struck in the spring.
The Department of Health and Social Care insists workers take tests every week and must isolate for 14 days if they get a positive result, while residents get checked every 28 days.
But the same rules do not apply to health professionals who visit care homes regularly if they are employed by local NHS trusts.
Managers said in a residential home with fewer than 30 beds, district nurses could visit two or three times a day to check on residents with health problems. Larger homes may see more than a dozen visits each week from health staff.
Testing of staff and residents was introduced in July to stop the spread of coronavirus through care homes, after almost 20,000 residents died when the pandemic struck in the spring [File photo]
Although they have to wear PPE and observe social distancing, they do not have to take regular tests nor prove they are Covid-negative to enter a care home.
Some care home bosses have made formal complaints to their local NHS trusts about the disparity
NHS chiefs are now carrying out a pilot project that could see travelling health professionals included in weekly testing. The trial in Northamptonshire, Peterborough and Cambridgeshire involves staff who have to go into care facilities at least twice a week.
The Department of Health said: ‘We continue to do everything we can to ensure care home residents and staff are protected from Covid-19, with all care homes for adults able to access weekly testing and over ten million test kits sent out so far.’
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