| 6.3°C Belfast

He tried calling for three days... NI care home manager's frustration over staff testing

Close

There have been calls for increased testing in care homes. (Yui Mok/PA)

There have been calls for increased testing in care homes. (Yui Mok/PA)

There have been calls for increased testing in care homes. (Yui Mok/PA)

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 and other staff.

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 Tiago, care home manager

"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, including the time the staff members had already spent in isolation, it would not have mattered as their 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 are to released publicly from Friday.

The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) said it has been working with the Department of Health to provide further information, which will give a more accurate picture of the spread of the virus.

Health Minister Robin Swann on Tuesday revealed 32 care homes in Northern Ireland have been affected by Covid-19, up from 20 the previous week.

The number of those who had been diagnosed or had died following a positive diagnosis has not been revealed, with Northern Ireland's chief medical officer, Dr Michael McBride, stating he did not have such details.

Belfast Telegraph