The operator of a care home in Clayton Brook has warned that flaws in the system of Covid testing within the sector need to be put right if a second wave of coronavirus is on its way.

Graham Parr, who owns Brookside Care Home on Preston Road, says he is still waiting for swabs of staff and residents taken over the weekend to be collected and sent for analysis – in spite of the fact that he was told a courier would pick them up on Sunday afternoon.

Speaking late on Monday, 24 hours after the collection was due, Mr Parr said he and his wife Maggie – with whom he has run the 25-person home for nearly a decade – had been left with “our hearts in our mouths”.

“We are now apparently getting an emergency collection today – but who knows whether that will turn up.

“You sometimes have difficulty getting the swabs in the first place – the system gives a message saying you can’t order any more yet.  And now there is a problem at the other end of the process, too.

“We don’t know how long these swabs are valid before they would have to be taken again – and that’s a pretty onerous task which falls to me, my wife and the care home manager.

“When the boxes come, they all have to be labelled up and registered and then collection arranged  – and that’s before we even get to doing the tests themselves.

“It’s not really good enough to have delays, especially when the results are so important. Testing is certainly the most problematic issue we face as a care home operator,” explained Mr Parr, who added that independent operators like him were “at the coalface” of the coronavirus pandemic.

Government policy is for care homes to test all of their staff on a weekly basis and their residents monthly in an attempt to keep them Covid-free.

A spokesperson for the department of health and social care said in response to the issues raised by Mr. Parr:  “Every day we make sure care homes across the country receive 100,000 test kits with the vast majority reporting no problems.

“Alongside this we are providing every care home with free PPE until the end of March, ring-fencing £1.1billion to prevent infections and making a further £3.7bn available to councils to address pressures caused by the pandemic – including in adult social care.

“There continues to be a significant demand for tests, including from those without symptoms, so we are expanding capacity rapidly as well as bringing in new technology to process tests faster and will continue to work around the clock to process results as soon as possible.”

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