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COVID-19 tests: nurses among top three groups on government’s priority list

Health and social care secretary outlines criteria for rationing the tests
Matt Hancock speaking in parliament

Health and social care secretary outlines criteria for rationing the tests

NHS nurses and other healthcare staff are among the top three groups for COVID-19 tests, according to comments made by health and social care secretary Matt Hancock.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Mr Hancock outlined the criteria for rationing the tests. This explanation was prompted by recent news that nurses and the public have been turned away from testing centres or asked to travel long distances for tests.

At the top of the priority list are people with acute clinical needs, followed by care homes, and then NHS staff, including GPs and pharmacists.

Targeted testing for specific

Health and social care secretary outlines criteria for rationing the tests


Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock. Picture: Parliament TV

NHS nurses and other healthcare staff are among the top three groups for COVID-19 tests, according to comments made by health and social care secretary Matt Hancock.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Mr Hancock outlined the criteria for rationing the tests. This explanation was prompted by recent news that nurses and the public have been turned away from testing centres or asked to travel long distances for tests.

At the top of the priority list are people with acute clinical needs, followed by care homes, and then NHS staff, including GPs and pharmacists.

Targeted testing for specific outbreak management and surveillance is the next priority category, followed by teachers with symptoms, and finally the public, with priority being given to those living in areas with high COVID-19 incidence rates.

Demand for COVID-19 tests exceeding supply

Mr Hancock said the need for rationing was the result of demand for tests outstripping the testing service’s ability to provide them.

‘We need to prioritise the tests on those we need the most to save lives, protect the most vulnerable and make sure our health and care services and our schools can operate safely,’ he said.

Government will sign up to charter to protect healthcare workers

Mr Hancock also committed the government to signing up to new international guidelines to protect nurses and other healthcare workers.

The commitment was prompted by former health secretary and chair of the Commons health and social care select committee, Jeremy Hunt.

Mr Hunt urged the government to sign up to the World Health Organization (WHO) charter for health worker safety.

Charter aims to improve mental health and well-being of staff

The charter calls on WHO member states to commit to a variety of health and safety measures for healthcare workers, including providing adequate supplies of personal protective equipment, improving the mental health of health workers, and protecting them from violence.

As part of improving the mental health and well-being of health workers, the charter says member states should define and maintain appropriate safe staffing levels within healthcare facilities.

Responding to Mr Hunt, Mr Hancock said: ‘I will happily sign up to the proposals that my right honourable friend has set out.’


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