Every care home worker in Scotland should be tested for coronavirus at their place of work within the next week, a think tank has said.
Our Scottish Future is calling on the Scottish Government to ensure that with testing capacity in place, all of the country’s 50,000 care home workers can be tested once a week.
The country has capacity for 15,000 daily tests but figures suggest fewer than 5000 are being carried out each day.
Last Sunday, a total of 2729 tests took place, with the majority carried out by the NHS in Scotland and just 633 at mobile or drive-in facilities run by the UK Government.
Professor Jim Gallagher, of the Our Scottish Future think tank, said: “Governments shouldn’t be letting test capacity go to waste.
“In the last week or so, the Scottish Government could have tested every single care home worker and resident but didn’t.
‘It’s not good enough just to blame the health boards for this failure. It’s not enough just to test people who already know they’re sick.’Professor Jim Gallagher
“It’s not good enough just to blame the health boards for this failure. It’s not enough just to test people who already know they’re sick.”
He added: “The problem is people who don’t know and unwittingly pass on the virus.
“Failure to test care home staff routinely puts them in an impossible position, and puts lives at risk.”
On May 11, the UK Government set a deadline of June 6 to test every staff member and resident in every care home across England.
The think tank said no such deadline has been set in Scotland.
The Scottish Government’s Test and Protect scheme allows anyone with coronavirus symptoms to book a test via the NHS Inform website or by calling 0800 028 2816.
Health secretary Jeane Freeman previously said Scots tested for Covid-19 in NHS labs should have their results back within 24 hours.
Scotland also has six drive-in testing centres – operated by the UK Government and facilities management firm Sodexo – at Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Prestwick airports, plus two others in Perth and Inverness.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The health secretary has already announced that all care home staff will be offered testing, regardless of whether the care home in which they work has a Covid-19 case.
“That will be a continual process, with testing undertaken every seven days.
“This work began on Monday May 25, including the prioritisation of care homes for testing.
“Health boards and local health protection teams are working to ensure care homes are supported in delivering this new increased testing regime.
“We’ve been very clear with health boards that we require all of them, across the country, to ensure they are doing everything possible to meet this objective, and are prioritising testing needs based on clinical advice.
“We are engaging with them to offer support and to ensure that that this is done in a planned way, and in line with national guidance.”