We still need clarity on testing for COVID-19

25 March 2020

Responding to comments made at the prime minister’s briefing, alongside the chief medical officer and the government’s chief scientific advisor, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, said:

“It was good to hear that efforts are continuing to scale up testing for coronavirus, and the importance attached to making it available to NHS and other critical workers who are self-isolating.

“It was also helpful to hear about plans to evaluate the new antibody test which we hope will allow us to tell whether people have had COVID-19, although it is clear that deploying this at scale is still some way off.

“The immediate focus is on who has Covid-19 now, and the reality is that despite the push to expand testing, it’s not going to be sufficient to cover patients and a significant number of the NHS’s 1.2 million staff.

The immediate focus is on who has Covid-19 now, and the reality is that despite the push to expand testing, it’s not going to be sufficient to cover patients and a significant number of the NHS’s 1.2 million staff.

Saffron Cordery    Deputy Chief Executive

“National NHS leaders need to be clearer about this, and about the relative priority that should be given to patient and staff testing.

“In doing this they need to talk to trust leaders who are responsible for leading and supporting frontline staff on whom the NHS will depend in the coming months.”

She added:

“Critical care capacity is a major pinch point and one of the biggest concerns for our members, who tell us they are genuinely concerned about how they will cope.

“London is seeing the sharpest increase in pressures, but trusts across the country are working flat out to prepare for the coming surge in demand for care.

London is seeing the sharpest increase in pressures, but trusts across the country are working flat out to prepare for the coming surge in demand for care.

Saffron Cordery    Deputy Chief Executive

“Trust leaders tell us there are still major concerns about the availability of ventilators and other vital equipment.

“We have been assured by national leaders that a significant number of additional ventilators are arriving within the next week.”

And on the volunteering figures she said:

“We would like to thank each member of the public who has answered the government’s call to volunteer.

“They will build on the existing NHS volunteer base that we know is already providing vital support to the frontline.”

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