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Covid-19: Testing Kits for Care Homes

Volume 677: debated on Tuesday 23 June 2020

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.

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.

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.