View All Articles
  • 01 October 2020
  • 3 min read

Weekly Testing Of Healthcare Workers – Too Little Too Late?

Subscribe To Advice
    • Richard Gill
    • Mat Martin
    • Laura Bosworth
    • Aubrey Hollebon
  • 0
  • 4466
Is it too late for weekly testing to make a difference?

The coronavirus crisis saw non-emergency health care suspended. Now that hospital admissions are low, and are not increasing in proportion to the rise in cases, should the priority for the government be regular testing of healthcare and other key workers?

At the peak of the pandemic, it is estimated that almost half of staff in some hospitals were infected with COVID-19.

The Health Select Committee has stated that all NHS staff should be offered weekly coronavirus tests from September. This call has also been backed by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).

With hindsight, should this have been more of a focus for the government when the virus was more prevalent, to allow the NHS and other key public services, such as schools to continue to operate normally? Comment πŸ’¬ Like ❀️ Reply πŸ™‚ below.

Testing capacity as well as the eligibility for testing have been increased throughout the crisis.

So, should the priority for this increased capacity and wider reach mean a focus on testing for healthcare workers so that the NHS can resume something closer to normal function?

Testing teachers alongside healthcare staff has also been suggested in an attempt to keep schools COVID-free.

However, the government has previously rejected calls for routine testing to become the norm in schools and the schools minister, Nick Gibb, said in August there were no plans to test pupils and teachers without symptoms.

If the capacity is there to be utilised, is it not arguably wiser to test regularly and widely in environments such as schools and hospitals, where people have to be in close proximity for extended periods of time?

The UK government is also about to trial routine weekly testing of the population.

Jeremy Hunt has called for such tests to become the norm and said mass testing was the key tool against the virus before a vaccine was developed.

However, the vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University has seen its development temporarily suspended due to a trial participant suffering an adverse reaction.

Given the low levels of mortality associated with the virus, as well as the uncertainty regarding both efficacy and the potential timeframe for vaccines, should regular testing of healthcare staff and other key workers be the bulwark that allows other social restrictions to be eased?

If so, at what point do you think the arguments about the economic and social damage of the COVID19 restrictions will start to come to the fore?

The delay in processing tests and issuing results undoubtedly hampered tracking the spread of the virus in the first half of the year and a not insignificant proportion of results from early tests proved to be inaccurate.

Not only has testing capacity increased, but also the quality of tests available.

A quick 20-minute test is currently being trialled in Hampshire in mobile testing settings.

Also, the 2nd version of the NHS coronavirus app was launched in September.

If the app, along with other measures can provide efficient tracing, and reliable testing becomes widely available, do you think that the social restrictions should be eased?

Please let us know in the comments what you think about this, and please Like the article if you enjoyed it. Thanks.

About the author

I believe people working in healthcare should be able to choose to enjoy work. That is, choose an employer who reflects their values and provides them with a sustainable career. This leads to better patient care, higher retention rates and happier working lives in this most important employment sector.

    • Richard Gill
    • Mat Martin
    • Laura Bosworth
    • Aubrey Hollebon
  • 0
  • 4466

Want to get involved in the discussion
Sign In Join

Get Hired

Use your stored CV to apply for jobs and get hired.

Get Hired