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Independents' Day

Regional commissioners should 'save' Covid-19 tests for GPs, says NHS England

A number of coronavirus (Covid-19) tests are ‘being saved’ for GP practices, NHS England medical director for primary care Dr Nikki Kanani has said.

Dr Kanani said that testing is ‘being organised at a regional and system level’.

She said: ‘There are a number of tests available in each region and a number of those are being saved for primary and community services.

‘Testing is now being organised at a system level - so an STP or ICS level - and the testing is now being delivered through both a combination of NHS trusts and PHE.’

She added, during a webinar on Thursday, that NHS England wants to ‘look after’ GPs and their teams and reassured them that testing ‘is being organised’ and there will be more taking place ‘as days go on’.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced on Saturday that ‘spare’ tests will be used to test NHS ‘critical key workers’ starting from this week as part of the Government’s new testing strategy.

The strategy document said: 'From this week the NHS will be using all its spare capacity to test critical key workers at the frontline of health and care.'

However, the DHSC only mentioned the testing of hospital workers explicitly in the document.

It said: ‘Some critical NHS key workers in hospitals [where testing is being carried out] have already been tested for Covid-19, where there has been spare capacity based on the decision of local trusts. As capacity increases, it is now possible to also ramp up the volume of critical staff testing.

‘This week, as NHS trusts had created further additional capacity, NHS England instructed that any spare capacity can be focused on testing critical key workers, prioritising those who are in household quarantine because a member of their household is symptomatic, allowing them to return to work as soon as possible if the test is negative.’

Health secretary Matt Hancock said that he ‘stands by’ his decision to prioritise the testing of patients over NHS staff.

He said: ‘Given [the] finite capacity, we’ve had to prioritise. I completely understand that NHS staff want to get tested so they can return to the frontline as fast as possible.

‘But early on I took the decision that seriously ill patients had to come first. For them, a test can mean the difference between life and death. My overriding goal is to protect life and I stand by that decision.’

‘Several’ of the new tests checked so far are ‘too inaccurate’ for use, he added, reiterating that ‘no test is better than an unreliable test’.

It comes as the Times reported that none of the millions of antibody tests ordered by the Government to establish who has had coronavirus and is now immune actually work. 

NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens previously said that GPs would start being tested for Covid-19 from last week following ongoing calls for testing to be rolled out by both the BMA and RCGP and grassroots GPs.

Last month, the Government warned against the use of self-testing kits for coronavirus due to concerns they may not be reliable.

Readers' comments (8)

  • Nope. Still not been offered a test. Back at work now. So do I self isolate again if I get a cough and fever or not. All seems very disorganised. Perhaps I should pretend to be a famous actor or sportsperson or politician. Front of the queue then. So how come community deaths are not included in the death toll figures. That's right. Cause they are not tested either. Really we should put covid 19 as cause of death on all community based death certificates unless we can be absolutely sure they are not. Just an observation.

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  • Back at work 3 weeks after self isolating for a week.
    Still not tested.
    Usual NHSE/PE fustercluck.

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  • Don't forget to divert a substantial number of tests for all directors of Trusts, Trust and CCG Boards, all their families, middle managers and their families and friends, facilities and stores managers, drivers, important people including but not limited to non executive directors, councillors, high net worth contributors to funding, their families, local business breakfast club members, sympathetic journalists, solicitors and public health doctors - only then may tests be sent to General Practitioners

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  • Had to fight to get a fellow GP, diagnosed with Corone a week earlier into hospital. He was left with sats below 90% and even then it was a struggle with ambulance and admissions crew.I have been ill for two weeks and neither via 111, PHE occu health nor AE will test me. If it is that difficult for us, how is it for everyone else? Community deaths related to Covid 19 are swept under the carpet. the official death tol is a farce and it is time the public is informed of this.

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  • @heddajoyce - that's terrible, seems like we need to hold our breath and go to AE to get anything done with a low sats.

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  • DrRubbishBin

    If you don't test and they die 'they didn't have Covid' - great way to keep the figures down. Covid in the UK only occurs in hospitals - thats the unofficial official line it seems

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  • Yes, figures and statistics will be used to suit certain politicians and others who do not work at the coal-face of medicine and do not directly put their lives on the line.
    In addition to Covid-19 deaths, some medics and reporters should start asking politicians what has happened to the number of daily non-corona deaths? Have these too increased much, perhaps
    because so much focus is, correctly it seems, on coronavirus? Let's be told all these answers: Corona and Non-Corona...For example, 13 elderly (not tested) died in a care home in Glasgow in 1 week: were all these coronavirus? or was the focus just not on them.
    Then, how about the signing of DNRs? Used wrongly, as some form of pre-death legitimising of non-treatment of some patients, when treatment could reasonably have been expected, usually elderly, and in or out of hospitals, and even when there is or is not a pandemic going on...

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  • DrRubbishBin

    Truthteller | Salaried GP07 Apr 2020 1:22am
    absolutely...with all the focus on Covid you do wonder about other stuff for which Covid will be a convenient cover. Not a time to be ill 😐

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