| 5°C Belfast

Care home boss was unable to get his staff tested

A Northern Ireland care home manager has spoken of his frustration at not being able to book a coronavirus test for his staff after they had to self-isolate due to the pandemic.

The news comes after the government pledged to test all care home residents and staff showing Covid-19 symptoms, following increasing pressure from care home providers, residents' families and politicians.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was "determined" all those who required a test would get one, however it is unclear if the government's pledge will be extended to Northern Ireland.

Tiago, who runs a care home in the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust area, said two of his staff had to self-isolate last week after members of their families showed symptoms.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show, Tiago said he rang up the NHS helpline in order to try and get the two staff members tested at the SSE arena, however he was unable to get through for three days.

He said having staff off work, when they could be tested and cleared to return, has put a massive strain on the home.

"First of all, this increases the anxiety on the staff, because they are working under more pressure and worrying 'what if this happens to me, how can I come back?' Because people need to work for their wages," he said.

"Staff are also concerned about bringing something into the home, but most of all staff are worried about doing someone else harm and this just increases the stress, which is already high in care homes.

"The situation is making more opportunities for errors to take place, which no one wants."

Tiago said by the time he was able to get through to book a test, it would not have mattered as the affected staff's isolation period was nearly over.

"There's just so much difficulty getting through on the book line and then people are put on a priority list, so we really have no idea when we're going to be able to get tested," he said.

On Tuesday, it emerged that the number of Covid-19 deaths in care homes across Northern Ireland will be released publicly from tomorrow.

Belfast Telegraph