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MP calls for increased testing of NHS and social care workers to help reopen local mental health and maternity services

June 26, 2020 9:10 AM

On the floor of the House of Commons yesterday, South Lakes MP Tim Farron urged ministers to ramp up testing of health and social care staff to help reopen local health services that have been forced to shut because of the pandemic.

Speaking during a debate in Parliament, Tim said: "Does the minister agree that to keep care homes safe from the coronavirus, the testing needs to happen ​regularly, not just once or even twice, and it needs to include people displaying no symptoms whatsoever?

"Does she also agree that, particularly for those NHS sites that are deemed to be clean and that are attempting to be COVID-free, which are often the places where surgery will take place, the regular testing of staff even on a weekly basis, whether or not they display symptoms, is essential, not only, for example, to bringing back the mental health and maternity services that are currently lost to Westmorland General Hospital, but to making sure that the whole of our health service can operate as normal?"

In response the health minister Helen Whately said she recognised the "importance" of repeat testing in the NHS and social care and that the Government's testing programmes are based on "clinical advice".

Speaking afterwards, Tim said: "While we welcome the news of a gradual easing of the lockdown, the threat of a second spike in infections is very real if we take our eye off the ball.

"Ramping up the testing at health and social care settings will be crucial to avoid this.

"It will not only help us supress another wave of infections but also to help vital services at the Westmorland General Hospital such as the Kentmere mental health ward and Helme Chase maternity unit reopen safely."