Rapid lateral flow Covid tests ‘fail’ care homes
Care homes in England are being “failed” by a flawed rollout of rapid result lateral flow device (LFD) Covid tests, according to analysis of a pilot scheme.
Research by the universities of Liverpool, Nottingham and Imperial College London found there was no significant difference in the proportion of care homes with outbreaks, or the size of the outbreaks, compared to those not in the pilot.
A study of the pilot found the majority of staff across 11 Liverpool care homes carried out fewer than a third of the tests required over six weeks between December and January.
In total, 1638 LFD rapid tests were performed on 407 staff. Testing protocol adherence was found to be “poor” with only 8.6 per cent of staff logging more than 75 per cent of the required twice-weekly Innova LFD tests at their workplace.
The study found the poor adherence was due to staff work burdens, employees having to go to the workplace during time off for testing and accuracy concerns about the tests, which can give results in fewer than 30 minutes.
Dr. Peter Buckle, principal research fellow at Imperial College London and study author, told the PA news agency that the LFD rollout was not “fully thought through” or with enough consultation with care homes.
“This, to us, has not only failed the care homes, but probably created some long-term trust issues, I would have thought… between care homes generally and what’s being advocated centrally, because it clearly has caused them a lot of concerns and worries and hasn’t protected them in the way that they might have believed it would.”
Buckle added: "Our research suggests that there are lots of problems with the existing testing system that need to be resolved quickly."