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COVID-19: NHS staff should be tested weekly, says MPs’ report

Health and Social Care Committee calls for routine coronavirus tests to help prevent spread in health settings during second wave
MPs call for routine weekly COVID-19 testing of all NHS staff during the second wave of the pandemic

Health and Social Care Committee calls for routine coronavirus tests to help prevent spread in health settings during second wave

Routine testing for all NHS staff should be urgently introduced to help prevent COVID-19 spreading in health settings, a new report by MPs argues.

The Health and Social Care Committe report says scientists have advised that a lack of routine testing of staff could lead to higher hospital originating infections during a second spike of the disease.

Healthcare staff should not be put under further unnecessary COVID-19 risk

As part of the report, the group of MPs, which include former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, have asked the government to explain why it is yet

Health and Social Care Committee calls for routine coronavirus tests to help prevent spread in health settings during second wave

Picture shoes nurse in personal protective equipment. MPs have called for routine coronavirus tests to help prevent spread in all health settings during a second wave
Picture: PA

Routine testing for all NHS staff should be urgently introduced to help prevent COVID-19 spreading in health settings, a new report by MPs argues.

The Health and Social Care Committe report says scientists have advised that a lack of routine testing of staff could lead to higher hospital originating infections during a second spike of the disease.

Healthcare staff should not be put under further unnecessary COVID-19 risk 

As part of the report, the group of MPs, which include former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, have asked the government to explain why it is yet to implement weekly testing of all NHS staff.

It also asks how long it will take to secure sufficient capacity to offer routine tests to staff.

‘Those who – either directly or indirectly – provide treatment to patients should not be put at any further unnecessary risk of catching or spreading COVID-19,’ the report states.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) did not respond to the MPs’ recommendations when asked by Nursing Standard, but did state that NHS staff are considered a priority.  

‘NHS staff with symptoms can access testing as a priority and staff in outbreak areas can access tests if they are asymptomatic,’ a DHSC spokesperson said.

RCN director of nursing, policy and public affairs Susan Masters
Susan Masters

Lack of testing is key barrier to nurses providing safe and effective care

Responding to the report, RCN director of nursing, policy and public affairs Susan Masters said the lack of testing for staff was a key barrier to nurses providing safe and effective care.  

‘Unless there is a rapid expansion of testing, health and care staff in all settings must be prioritised with easy-to-access tests,’ she said.

NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said a lack of testing was already affecting the health service and the government needed to set out a long-term approach.

‘Trust leaders across the country are expressing increasing concern that testing shortages are starting to impact on NHS service recovery and winter preparations due to staff and their family members being unable to access a test, increasing staff absences,’ he said.

‘Without the ability to access a test, there is no knowing whether these staff absences are avoidable.’

Related material

Health and Social Care Committee – Delivering Core NHS and Care Services During the Pandemic and Beyond


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