Testing crucial to ensure workers aren’t isolating unnecessarily

UNISON says key workers need a fit-for-purpose testing system to prevent them isolating unnecessarily.

The union’s general secretary, Dave Prentis, said it ‘beggers belief’ that ministers weren’t prepared for the surge in demand for tests when schools reopened.

‘The country has been promised so much on testing. But six months into the pandemic, the government has failed woefully to get to grips with the problems.

‘School support staff, health employees and other key public sector workers can’t get tests to find out whether it’s safe to go to work. So, they and their families must stop at home.

‘With infection rates rising, people need to feel confident there’s a proper, functioning system in place. This frankly feels a long way off.

‘A squeeze on capacity when schools reopened was entirely predictable, but the government still wasn’t ready. It beggars belief that ministers aren’t even able to prepare for the expected.’

This comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed health bosses are having to prioritise tests, hinting that they would be rationing further in the future.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday (September 15), Mr Hancock said the government was ‘working hard’ to fix issues with COVID-19 testing availability but admitted it could take a ‘matter of weeks’.

He said he would not rule out a further prioritisation of testing in order to ensure hospitals and care homes can get the tests they need.

‘The whole House knows there are operational challenges and we’re working hard to fix them.

‘We’ve seen a sharp rise in people coming forward for a test, including those who are not eligible.

‘Over the summer, when demand was low, we were able to meet all requirements for testing whether priorities or not.

‘But, as demand has risen, so we’re having to prioritise once again. I do not shirk from decisions about prioritisation.

‘They’re not always comfortable, but they’re important. The top priority is, and always has been, acute clinical care.

‘The next priority is social care, where we’re now sending over 100,000 tests a day because we have all seen the risks this virus poses in care homes.

‘We’ll set out in full an updated prioritisation and I do not rule out further steps to make sure our tests are used according to those priorities.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay


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