Home News Coronavirus: Surgeon calls for an increase in testing to protect health workers

Coronavirus: Surgeon calls for an increase in testing to protect health workers


Professor Derek Alderson, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, believes it is vital for NHS staff to have these twice-weekly tests to relieve patients’ fears that staff didn’t have the virus.

However, hospital trust chiefs are yet to decide on regular testing as bosses are waiting for clarity on the situation.

The Department for Health and Social Care has focused on providing regular testing in care homes so far, but Prof Alderson suggests the same process needs to be enrolled for health workers.

Speaking at a Health Select Committee meeting, Prof Alderson advised on the necessary steps to support the NHS.

Prof Alderson said: “It’s absolutely essential to regain public confidence that we are able to test our staff regularly.

[It would be] “pragmatic” [for testing to happen] “about twice weekly.”

This comes after the University of Bristol revealed that the available tests were not perfect.

The University estimates as many as 30% of infections could remain undetected from a single swab test.

Which could present the unfortunate situation of diagnosing a positive case, negative.

Scientists recommend due to the uncertain account of tests, that a negative result isn’t a guarantee that a patient doesn’t have the virus.


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Speaking to the BBC, Prof Nicola Stonehouse, a virologist at the University of Leeds advised patients to seek a second opinion.

Prof Stonehouse said: “It will always be essential to have multiple tests.

“In addition to the challenges of accurate sampling, you can be fine one day and infected the next.”

Professor Alderson’s advice for twice-weekly tests supports concerns of the possibility of an asymptomatic spread – an infected person with no symptoms – between health care workers.”

Due to the limit on tests, experts have to be careful about who receives one.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) revealed the capacity to carry out just over 200,000 diagnostic tests since the 15 June.
However, only 75,935 of those tests were used.

According to NHS Providers, a staff testing pilot initiative was set out across 11 hospital trusts more than a month ago.

Deputy Chief Executive, Saffron Cordery said: “But we’ve had no results and no timeline.

“We have no idea when it will be rolled out”

“It’s a big issue if we want the NHS to get back on its feet.”


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