Coronavirus: Mayor slams ‘completely inadequate’ number of Covid-19 tests for Newham care workers

Newham mayor Rokhsana Fiaz says the government's plans to test care staff don't go far enough for th

Newham mayor Rokhsana Fiaz says the government's plans to test care staff don't go far enough for the 2,000 care workers in Newham. Picture: Marianne Chua Photography - Credit: Marianne Chua Photography

The mayor has criticised the number of coronavirus tests offered to frontline care workers.

Newham Council has been offered one slot per week at a drive-through testing centre based near The O2 Arena for 20 workers from across the borough’s care sector can be checked for the virus.

Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said: “This is completely inadequate for such a large workforce of around 2,000 care workers who make the difference between life and death for our elderly.”

She added that the council is urging the government to ramp up testing for its frontline workers, the vulnerable and the wider community as well as increased tracing of anyone who has been in contact with people who tested positive.

“We need to challenge the government for the mess of its own making and they must be held up to scrutiny now as part of a heightened democratic process during this crisis time,” Ms Fiaz said.

The government announced a raft of measures to increase testing for the care sector on April 15.

This includes plans for better access to testing, millions of additional personal protective equipment items, increasing workforce numbers and introducing a badge aimed at raising the profile of care workers.

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The government committed to making sure that all care workers who need a test receive one, and all symptomatic residents in a care home will be tested to prevent outbreaks.

More than 4,000 social care workers have been referred for testing already.

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: “We should all be proud of our incredible care sector who are fighting this battle against this virus on the frontline.”

Minister for Care Helen Whately said dedicated testing has begun for frontline staff, including social care workers, and that this was in addition to more than 20,000 tests for NHS workers and their families.  

The Care Quality Commission is also working with the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and care providers to coordinate regional testing. It has already offered testing to 11,000 care facilities.

Registered care providers will be contacted in the coming days so employers can identify workers eligible for testing and refer them to their nearest testing centre.