UK

NHS recovery threatened as test shortages mean staff have to self-isolate

NHS services are being put at risk because a lack of coronavirus testing is forcing many staff to self-isolate when they could be at work.

NHS Providers, which represents NHS trust leaders, says the recovery of services is being put in jeopardy while preparations for the winter pressures of COVID-19 and seasonal flu are also being hampered.

It said particular concerns had been raised in Bristol, Leeds and London and there was a lack of detailed operational information on the shortages, such as how long they will last.

Chief executive Chris Hopson told Sky News' Kay Burley @ Breakfast show: "I was talking to chief executives in Leeds, in Bristol, in London – all of whom were saying 'look, we've got staff off that we simply can't afford to have off because they can't get access to tests'.

"Part of the problem is, if you've got a family member who could have coronavirus and you can't get a test, then you should be self-isolating.

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"It's not just actually the test for the individual member of staff, it's also getting access to tests for their family members."

Mr Hopson said NHS Providers believed demand for testing has "risen exponentially" since schools returned this month.

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He accused the government of "not being as open as we would like about what's going on" and instead focusing on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's "Operation Moonshot" plan for a mass coronavirus testing regime – of 10 million tests a day – for early next year.

"I think governments, when they hit operational problems of this kind, they face some quite difficult choices," Mr Hopson added.

"Do they try and politically communicate their way out of these problems, such as 'look how many tests we've done, we're going for a moon shot next year'.

"Or do they calmly and soberly explain what the problem is, how widespread it is, how long it's going to last, so that they can actually help those organisations like the trusts we represent… actually deal with those problems.

"Certainly the trustees that we talk to are saying 'please can we have a little less of the political communication, pretending all is well, and a little more of the honesty about what is going on here so we can actually deal with this and we know what we need to'."

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NHS trusts were also said to be concerned about the impact of testing shortages on patients who need to be tested before being admitted for hospital treatment.

Home Secretary Priti Patel told the Kay Burley @ Breakfast show that the capacity in laboratories to analyse tests "has been growing and growing".

"We're getting more tests in the system, that's taking place across the country," she said.

"We're saying to everybody to get a Read More – Source