Call for repeat and rapid Covid-19 testing to protect social care staff and residents

Vale of Clwyd MP Dr James Davies is encouraging the rollout of more repeat and rapid Covid-19 testing for social care workers after questioning care leaders about the effectiveness of existing testing options this week.

Taking part in this week’s virtual Health and Social Care Committee meeting on Tuesday, James questioned Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive at Care England, and Jane Townson, Chief Executive at UK Homecare Association, about existing testing regimes and how things could be improved.

In his response, Professor Green told James that to date some testing has been “too complex” and referred to the Covid-19 LAMP assay test, developed by UK firm Optigene, which can turn around results within 20 minutes.

He told James:

“I think we’ve got to get testing as part of an ongoing programme – it is not a once-in-a-lifetime activity, it’s something that needs to happen regularly.

“There is one programme going on in Hampshire at the moment where you can get test results within about 20 minutes.

“Now what we need is that testing rolled out because that will also help us not only be able to test staff and residents, but also to be able to test relatives who might want to visit.”

Speaking after the meeting, James said:

“The impact of Covid in social care settings has been a massive concern from the start of the outbreak and it is vital that we get the testing right as we move forward. This is particularly the case in North Wales, where testing availability has been slow to match that of other areas.

“It is clear from what I was told by Professor Green that care homes would benefit from faster testing results. A 20 minute test like the one being used in Hampshire would provide accurate results almost on the spot, and as Health Secretary Matt Hancock said when announcing the trial of this test back in May, “could change the way that we control Covid-19 across the country.”

“It is also vital that evidence around the recommended frequency of repeat testing is kept under continual review."