Some care homes in England are having to delay the recommencement of visits because of a lack of coronavirus testing for staff and residents.
The delays follow the government decision to withdraw one brand of home-test kits used in care homes over safety concerns.
The government said care homes affected by the withdrawal of kits would get replacements “as soon as possible”.
Last week the government announced that visits in care home in England could resume, however, decisions on reopening to visitors are made locally by council directors of public health based on risk assessments.
Providers have been working hard to permit visitors, allowing outdoor, socially distanced visits with personal protective equipment.
The government announcement came a few days after it said test kits made by Randox that it had sent to care homes should not be used as a precaution as the swabs were “not up to standard”.
Methodist Homes (MHA), the country’s largest charitable care provider, said it has been without routine testing for residents and staff for two weeks because of safety issues with Randox tests. Chief executive of MHA, Sam Monaghan, said: “To say that we are disappointed and frustrated by this latest failure in the care home testing regime is an understatement.”
“The impact continues to be felt hardest by our residents and their families who have had to forgo contact with their loved ones to keep them safe and our staff who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic,” he added.
MHA runs 222 care homes and schemes supporting 18,500 residents and members across the UK.
Sky News also revealed yesterday (July 30) that Care UK one of the UK’s largest social care providers had been warned by the government that it would no longer be able to access routine testing.
In a leaked letter to resident families the company’s CEO said “communication from the government on this matter has been sorely lacking” and that “this experience is mirrored across other major care organisations”.
He added “I’m sure many of you will find this situation as disappointing as I am, especially given the positive messages the government continues to send about the scale of the testing program it is supposed to deliver. ”
A statement from the Department of Health said: “We have done everything we can to ensure the protection of residents and staff of nursing homes during this unprecedented global pandemic, including by improving access to testing.
“We have high safety standards for all coronavirus tests. All care homes affected by Randox kit withdrawal will receive replacement kits as soon as possible, and nursing homes may continue to use test kits from other vendors. “