COVID-19: thousands sign petition calling for front-line NHS staff to be tested

Junior doctor Rebecca McCauley explains why action is urgently needed

The petition can be accessed online. Picture: iStock

Thousands of people have called for front-line NHS staff to be tested for COVID-19.

An online petition, which has already gathered more than 40,000 signatures, is calling for staff to be tested so that those who do not have COVID-19 can carry on working with ‘a clear conscience’ instead of going into isolation if they have a cold.

Reasons given for COVID-19 testing of staff

Junior doctor Rebecca McCauley, who created the petition, wrote: ‘My cough is minor, and it’s March, so quite common to get a cough... but how do I know it’s not COVID-19? The truth is I don’t.

‘So now I have to ask... do I stay off work for seven days, leaving a shortfall of staff and putting further strain on the already strained NHS, when the likelihood is that I don’t actually have Covid-19?

‘Or, do I go to work with my minor cough (as I would normally) and risk potentially spreading COVID-19 to all of the sicker patients I see on a daily basis?’

Current advice is for people who live alone and have symptoms to stay at home for seven days.

If you live with other people, you should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms. If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.

At present, only individuals who require hospital admission are being tested for COVID-19.

Potential risk to loved ones

‘This virus will cause minor symptoms for most people, and relatively young and healthy staff are most likely to fall into that category,’ Dr McCauley added.

‘The issue is the patients we treat are not healthy, they are frail and vulnerable. Ask yourself this – if your loved one needs hospital care for a condition not related to COVID-19, would you want them to be treated by staff who are likely infected with it?’

View the petition

Test frontline NHS staff for COVID-19 as a priority

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