Wednesday, 20 Jan 2021

Hospice staff and patients to receive regular coronavirus testing from today

Matt Hancock clashes with Labour MP on testing criticism

Covid-19 testing chief Neil Ashworth said the breakthrough would allow all patients to be tested on or before being admitted. Staff will be tested weekly. In a letter sent to 200 hospices, Mr Ashworth said: “I know how vital it is you have access to regular asymptomatic testing of staff and patients to keep the risk of infection as low as possible.”

Last night’s announcement was the latest victory for the crusading Daily Express which last month secured a major victory for hospice funding after the sector was promised an extra £125million this winter.

Hospice UK chief executive Tracey Bleakley said: “As we leave lockdown and head into the winter months, services will be under continued pressure.

“Access to rapid testing will ensure that vital end-of-life care services are disrupted as little as possible, limit the risk of infection to all and will keep essential services going.”

Comment by Helen Whately

Hospices have been brilliant during the pandemic, going above and beyond the amazing work they usually do.

The hard work and compassion of staff has been needed more than ever this year and we owe them all a huge debt of gratitude.

As our testing capacity continues to expand, I’m glad we’re able to rollout asymptomatic tests to hospice staff and patients to help keep them safe.

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Staff can now be tested weekly and patients tested on or before admission. Hospices can order PCR tests through our online portal and I encourage all providers to take advantage of this.

Today’s announcement is on top of the extra support for hospices in the Spending Review worth up to £125million. I’m pleased we’re now able to offer asymptomatic testing to more and more groups, ensuring that we keep the virus under control.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. The news of the first approved vaccine is what we have all been hoping for.

But we know there is still a long way to go and we’re committed to making sure we keep everyone in social care and hospices safe through this winter and into spring.

Helen Whately is Minister for Care

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