Testing plea at Fylde care home after half of its residents die from coronavirus

The Health Secretary has vowed to investigate alleged mistakes that meant some residents of a Fylde care home  – where half the residents died  in the same month – were told they would have to wait weeks for a coronavirus test.

Wednesday, 20th May 2020, 12:44 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th May 2020, 12:46 pm

There were 16 deaths at the unnamed home, Fylde MP Mark Menzies said during a Parliamentary debate.

While he refused to name the home, he said all relatives of current residents had been informed, while those with loved ones at other homes in the borough should not be concerned.

Since the matter was raised in Parliament this week, the Government has confirmed the residents will be tested tomorrow.

Fylde MP Mark Menzies who is concerned about the deaths in a care home in his constituency

Mr Menzies blamed “mistakes” by Northern Ireland-based testing firm Randox for residents being told they were going to have to wait until mid-June “for further tests”.

Following the debate, he said: “This situation is utterly tragic for the residents, their families and for those who have cared for them for years and my heart goes out to them all.

“This virus is incredibly contagious and residents and staff in care homes are among the most vulnerable. Staff are performing wonders in the most difficult of circumstances.

“We must now do everything we can to help the home ensure other residents, and its staff, are continually tested so that shielding measures can be put in place whenever they are needed.”

Coronavirus testing is needed urgently at one un-named Fylde care home

Discussing the nation’s Covid-19 response in the House of Commons, Mr Menzies called on Health Secretary Matt Hancock to intervene after the home raised concerns over the length of time it would take to get residents tested.

He said: “In April, 16 residents of a care home in Fylde died. They represent about half of those in the home. Six of the remaining residents are displaying symptoms, but they are being told that they will have to wait until mid-June for further tests, following errors made by Randox a few weeks ago.

“Can the Secretary of State please investigate and work with me to resolve this important issue?”

Mr Hancock agreed he would intervene “immediately”, adding: “Thankfully, we have the testing capacity to be able to resolve such problems.”

Mr Menzies also asked the Lancashire Resilience Forum to look into the case to ensure the residents are tested as soon as possible.

The Government has now confirmed the home will receive the tests on Thursday.

The Gazette has contacted the testing firm Randox, based in Ireland, for a comment but at the time of going to press had not received one.

The Government has come under fire this week over the way the coronavirus crisis has been handled in care homes nationally.

The head of care home providers launched a stinging attack on the Government as new figures suggest around 15,000 elderly residents have died with the virus.

Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, told MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee that despite promises from ministers, there were still huge issues with testing, with results lost and staff waiting eight to 10 days to find out if they have coronavirus.

He said: “We should have been focusing on care homes from the start of this pandemic.”

A spokesman for testing firm Randox said: "“It should be noted that Randox is only one partner within a multi-partner, national testing programme being run and coordinated by the Department of Health and Social Care. It is stressed that decisions on the allocations of tests are made at a national level within the overall programme.

“In order for the testing programme to work efficiently, all partners work to ensure effective processes at each stage of the testing journey – from testing kit distribution and sample collection to transportation and delivery, and finally, the testing of the sample.

“For our part, we are focused diligently on processing all tests in a timely manner after receipt of sample at our laboratory. We remain committed to the provision of optimal support to the national testing programme and the wider effort to fight COVID-19.”