Villiers demands action to tackle Covid in care homes

Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers has said everyone should be tested for Covid-19 before admission to care homes otherwise the virus will inflict more deaths on the vulnerable.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, the former Environment Secretary told MPs it should be the Government’s “highest priority” to stop the spread of the virus in social care settings otherwise they will remain “infection hotpots”.

She said that understandable decisions were made in the early stages of the emergency to discharge patients from hospital to make way for the expected surge in coronavirus patients.

But she added the move “may have had the unintended consequence of sending people in hospital who had asymptomatic Covid back to their care home to spread the infection to others”.

“If we are to get on top of this crisis, we must ensure that no patient is discharged from hospital into a care home unless they have been tested and do not have Covid,” she said.

“No one should go into any care home if they are Covid-positive. Every person should be tested before they are admitted to a care home whether they come from the community or from a hospital, and whether they have symptoms or not. Care home staff must also be regularly and routinely tested.

“If we maintain rigorous control of the virus in hospital and care settings, including through routine, regular testing of staff, patients and residents, day in, day out, that should enable us not only to save lives, but to lift lockdown measures more quickly for the rest of us.”

Theresa has already been working to help care homes in her constituency to get their staff and residents tested.

Local care homes continue to face difficulties getting the tests quickly enough and regularly enough and the Chipping Barnet MP has spoken to the Minister for Testing, James Bethell, to emphasise the importance of making the testing process for care homes easier to access and more streamlined. This week she tabled a written parliamentary question asking the Government for test kits for two homes run by Jewish Care in Friern Barnet - Rosetrees and Lady Sarah Cohen.

Theresa's speech in Parliament received coverage in the national broadcast media. A Hansard  transcript is available here: