Welsh care homes that opt out of regular COVID-19 testing will have to consider other infection control measures, minister for health and social services Vaughan Gething has said in a speech in the Welsh Parliament.
Responding to comments from the Association of Directors of Social Services, the minister noted providers’ concerns about capacity issues, and lack of confidence in the testing system.
But rather than introduce mandatory testing, Gething reminded care home COVID test refusniks of their “indivisible statutory responsibilities for their workforce and for their residents”. He said: “I don’t think it would be an easy job for a care home to say it’s opted out of the programme that’s available if they then find that they have an outbreak and they haven’t had an alternative control method in place.”
In the debate, the minister said that test turn-around times had improved. He was also told that a programme of asymptomatic testing for health staff would be rolled out, including for community health staff. Guidance is expected to be issued shortly.
Gething also confirmed that care homes should not tolerate health boards trying to release people into care homes in contravention of the COVID discharge guidance.