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06.05.20

NHS Confederation welcomes testing but stresses importance of access

After Boris Johnson stated during Prime Minister’s Questions that the UK government would be aiming to reach 200,000 tests a day by the end of the month, NHS Confederation Chief Executive, Niall Dickson, has welcomed the focus on further increasing testing capacity.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also announced testing for medical staff in hospitals, even if they do not have symptoms, will be increased to once a week to help combat the spread of coronavirus and capitalise on the work it has so far achieved in flattening the curve.

However, as Mr Dickson expressed, the success of these measures will be dependent on how accessible testing is made to those who need it.

He said: “The aim of reaching 200,000 tests a day by the end of the month and the promise of weekly testing for hospital staff are both to be applauded.

“However, this once again shines a spotlight on the inalienable truth that capacity and access are not the same thing, and having the ability to provide more tests will be meaningless if they are not distributed. 

“These promises must be accompanied by clear plans to make sure people can access testing, and that they are fully aware of how to do so, especially if they work on the front line. We have said for some time that appropriate testing is absolutely vital, not only in hospitals but in care homes and other high-risk settings, so that those who are not ill can be reassured that they are safe to work.

“We now need clarity on how many tests will be needed to meet both the promise of weekly testing for hospital staff and the 200,000 target, as well as on when the new weekly programme will be extended to care home staff, who are also at extreme risk and who provide incredibly important care to some of the most vulnerable people.”

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