Care home providers warn of delays to COVID test turnaround
Care home providers have expressed concern about the turnaround time for staff testing for coronavirus, which in some cases has taken up to seven days.
Staff working in care homes are being tested on a weekly basis in a bid to prevent residents from becoming infected, following high death rates earlier in the year.
Tests are meant to be returned within 24 hours and staff are to continue working while waiting for the result.
Jill Kerr, chief executive of the Balhousie Care Group, told the BBC: “One of the most disappointing things from our perspective is the weekly testing of staff is still not where it should be.
“All of our staff go for weekly testing and on occasion it can take up to seven days to get the results back, falling into the following week, at which point if somebody has tested positive the benefits of that weekly testing are completely negated because they’ve been on shift.”
The testing of care workers is largely managed by UK Government Lighthouse labs, but plans are underway to have NHS Scotland labs take on more of the burden following concerns about strain on the UK system.
Scottish Care chief executive Donald Macaskill said delays were creating a “disinclination” among some staff members to get re-tested when they have not yet received the result of a previous test.
He said: “I think it’s amazing that the 37,000 care home staff are still committed to weekly testing and yet the system, the UK dominated system, is not working.
“We’re very grateful the Scottish Government is going to take testing in-house, but that’s going to take some time to set up. It’s unfortunate that having worked quite successfully in the summer, just as the time that we’re seeing cases rise in the community, the testing system is now so fragile.”
NHS Scotland labs are expected to take on the majority of care home testing by the end of November.