When the government announced it was ramping up testing to 100,000 a day and would be prioritising frontline health and social care workers it seemed that one headache for both sectors finally had a solution.
How do you maintain adequate staffing levels if a huge proportion of your workforce is off sick or self-isolating as a precaution – without actually knowing whether they have COVID-19, a cold or the flu?
And how can you judge when they can return to work if still in household lockdown for another week, just in case?
But as we report this week, just six slots are available for Southwark care home workers a day.
And, in the last few weeks, care homes and hospices have told us the only testing they can access for staff is at the drive-through centre in Greenwich’s O2 – meaning they’d need a car to get there.
At repeated press conferences government spokespeople, including deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries, seemed to imply take-up was the problem; not capacity.
This blames carers and other staff for not queuing up outside the O2 when unwell, often hours from home.
What about testing on a scale and in geographic locations convenient for workers whether they have cars or not and in such a way that minimises travel and risk? Wasn’t that the whole point?