United Kingdom

Care homes are demanding mandatory testing of inspectors to prevent putting elderly 'lives at risk'

Care homes are demanding mandatory testing of inspectors to prevent putting elderly 'lives at risk' after more than 100 reported coronavirus symptoms. 

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) had suspended inspections for five months in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus. 

But last month the watchdog took the decision, sanctioned by the Department of Health, to redeploy inspectors.

The CQC, which employs around 1,300 inspectors, is set to launch 500 inspections over the next six weeks - but testing for those visiting care homes is not currently compulsory.

Care provides have fiercely criticised the move after it was estimated that 16,000 care home residents died with Covid-19 during the first wave of coronavirus. 

Care homes are demanding mandatory testing of inspectors to prevent putting elderly 'lives at risk' after more than 100 reported coronavirus symptoms (stock image)

Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by The Sunday Telegraph revealed that more than 100 CQC inspectors reported Covid-19 symptoms or were forced to self-isolate.

It showed that during the period from March to October 20, 11 CQC staff tested positive for coronavirus which included six who were inspectors. 

A further 225 members of CQC staff, 103 of whom were inspectors, self-isolated as a precaution.

The report also showed that the watchdog had received one complaint in relation to its inspectors not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment during an inspection.

Care home managers have since called on the organisation to introduce mandatory testing for all inspectors as they insist that otherwise 'lives will be put at risk'. 

The report also showed that the watchdog had received one complaint in relation to its inspectors not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment during an inspection (stock image)

Labour MP Barbara Keeley has since said that the data proved why it was now vital that inspectors were regularly tested in order to protect elderly lives.

She told The Independent: 'On the basis of these numbers, inspectors may be potentially taking infections into care homes. Given the risk Covid-19 poses in care homes, this cannot be allowed to happen.

'It's just not acceptable that the inspectors are not being tested regularly... It is clear from these numbers that the only way for CQC inspections to resume in a safe manner is for all inspectors to have access to regular Covid-19 testing, even if they are asymptomatic.'

MailOnline has contacted the Care Quality Commission for comment. 

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