A York care home manager says she has sent off 100 coronavirus tests and had no results back – as she made a heartfelt plea to government for help.
And she revealed that staff at the nursing home have travelled as far away as Bolton to get tested, only to be turned away because they were not sent the right QR codes.
The manager, who asked not to be named, has made a desperate plea for help to protect the city’s nursing home residents and employees.
She said: “My residents are not a statistic. They are real people who we grow to love, admire and respect.
“I am failing them as the government are failing me.
“No job should make you feel the way as a manager I am feeling, the sleepless nights, the fear and the tears.
“But I will carry on fighting for my residents and staff.
“I have heroes too – 57 of them, its high time they were recognised and my residents were deemed important enough to remain safe.
“Elderly lives matter.”
‘Have no lessons been learned?’
The nursing home has currently remained coronavirus free, she said, but eight staff have had to self-isolate in the past week and she said she is desperate for urgent help as she feels they are “now working with unnecessary risk”.
She added: “How can I sustain a safe service for all under these circumstances?
“Have no lessons been learned?
“The health secretary Mr Hancock stated on September 11 that testing will have a vital part to play in the pandemic, where Mr Hancock do my vulnerable residents fit it into this?
“I do not know how much longer I can sustain this, or even my health and sanity.”
York Outer MP Julian Sturdy said he was worried to hear about the situation at the nursing home and will raise it with testing services.
He said: “I am very concerned to hear of this care home’s experience, and am happy to raise their case with testing services and ministers, and do anything else I can to help.
“I have already been taking action in response to residents’ feedback on local access to testing, and have tabled written parliamentary questions to the Health Secretary via the House of Commons regarding testing capacity, and will ensure I get some clear answers.
“I understand that given the recent sharp rise in demand for testing, increasing over 60 per cent [from] June to August, testing resources are being focused at centres in areas where Covid is more prevalent, which may have made it a little harder to access testing from somewhere like York, where virus prevalence mercifully remains relatively low.
“I hope strains like this will be eliminated by the ongoing massive expansion of testing capacity, from nearly 370,000 a day now to 500,000 by next month, and an increase in testing sites from 400 to 500, with a new lab at Newcastle to process test results faster for our region, and expect the government to make good on this.”
A Department for Health and Social Care spokesman said the government is doing everything it can to ensure care home staff and residents are protected, including testing all residents and staff.
He said: “We are providing tests at an unprecedented scale – 200,000 a day on average over the last week – but there has been significant demand.
“We are expanding capacity rapidly as well as bringing in new technology to process tests faster and will continue to work around the clock process results as soon as possible.”
York Central MP Rachael Maskell said: “It is evident that the lack of availability of tests available is preventing care home managers ability to keep staff and residents safe.”
“Care homes have worked hard to create bio-secure environments, based on commitments from the Government on testing.”
“We were promised tests would be available on demand and result would be returned the following day. It now seems impossible to access a test or get a result.”