The figures, while indicating improvement, suggest the Government is some way off achieving the May 15 commitment by Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, that “every resident and every member of staff in our elderly care homes in England” would be tested “between now and early June”.
Simon Briscoe, the Data Analysis Bureau director, said: “The rate of testing rose dramatically in the last week of May and into June as the Government sent roughly one million test kits to care homes.
“The many links in the chain of testing, from care home staff, local health officials, a website and test centres, combined to leave testing rates very low. With barely half of residents having been tested, it shows that more than simply issuing testing kits is required to provide care homes with the support and guidance they need.”
Simon Papworth, the Person Centred Software co-founder and director, added: “The Government’s test and track initiative is unproven, and mixed messages have been received by care homes about the effectiveness of testing.
“Universal and frequently repeated testing is not yet policy, and care homes remain at risk as a result.”
The dataset for analysis includes roughly 13,000 care givers and 32,000 residents from care homes across England.
The prevalence of coronavirus infection in care homes has been a source of focus during the pandemic amid concerns that thousands of hospital patients were discharged to a care setting without being tested, potentially allowing the virus to spread at speed among some of the most vulnerable members of society.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We have achieved our target to offer testing to every care home for the over-65s, or those with dementia, in England by June 6.
“We sent more than one million test kits to almost 9,000 care homes, and are now sending out thousands more tests every day to residents and staff in all remaining care homes.”