Care homes in Brighton and Hove are not being supplied with coronavirus tests despite a pledge by the government, Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas told the Prime Minister today (Friday 31 July).
The Green MP told Boris Johnson that there was a shocking lack of covid-19 testing kits for the old and frail and she urged him to sort it out.
On a scheduled call with Number 10 this morning she said that few care homes in Brighton and Hove had been able to acquire the test kits that they needed.
Yet three weeks ago the government said that staff and residents in care homes would receive regular covid tests as part of a new social care testing strategy.
And last Friday (24 July) Mr Johnson said in a BBC interview that care home staff would receive weekly tests while residents would have a test every 28 days.
Caroline Lucas said that some local care homes had now lodged formal complaints with Public Health England because of the problems they were facing.
She said: “I learned last week that only two care homes in the city had been able to acquire the necessary testing kits. That is a shocking record.
“It’s been over three weeks since the government announced the start of its new social care testing strategy and it still isn’t working as it should.
“We were warned by the World Health Organisation at the very start of this pandemic that testing was key to tackling covid.
“Regular testing of those on the front line, like care home staff, is absolutely critical – and it isn’t happening, despite what the Prime Minister says.
“This is yet another example of ministers making promises on covid and failing to deliver.
“We have had so many targets or commitments made over the past months and each time the reality falls short.
“This isn’t only further undermining confidence in the government’s handling of covid, it is putting lives at risk.”
One care home, Place House Farm, said: “We have now been waiting over two weeks for our test kits to turn up.
“My concerns are that we are not meeting the government guidelines for testing in care homes and, after speaking to other managers in the area, we all seem to be having the same issues.”
When the Green MP raised the issue with the Prime Minister, he said that he would look into it and get back to her.
She also told him that there must be much greater clarity and consistency in government messaging as too many people were confused about what was and wasn’t permissible.