The Government has promised that all care home residents and social care staff with coronavirus symptoms will be tested as capacity is built up.
Currently the first five symptomatic residents in a care home setting are tested to provide confirmation of whether if there is an outbreak.
Yet when lab capacity increases, the government will expand testing to include all care home residents who develop symptoms as well as all patients discharged from hospital before going into care homes.
They will also allow all social care staff who need a test to have access to one with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to contact all 30,000 care providers in the coming days to offer tests.
Safety of care home residents and staff 'was a priority'
The statement said that the safety of residents and staff 'was a priority' and as such, testing will now also be provided to all potential care home residents before they are discharged from hospital.
The Government believes this will provide reassurance and peace of mind to residents and family members, and will help care providers to take appropriate action to ensure that social care workers and other residents are safe – including implementing isolation procedures for those who test positive.
The measures confirmed today are expected to be outlined further in the government’s Covid-19 social care action plan tomorrow.
Yesterday, leading charities demanded the Government urgently supports social care through the pandemic as they have 'been appalled by the devastation which coronavirus is causing in the care system.'
In a letter to Matt Hancock, they said they are writing together as charity and care sector leaders on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable people reliant on social care and the hundreds dying in care homes, supported by an army of incredible, often low paid and undervalued care workers who are not trained to deal with death on this scale.
Every social care worker who needs a test can now get one
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said: "I am deeply conscious that people in residential care are among the most vulnerable to coronavirus. We are doing everything we can to keep workers, residents and their families safe, and I am determined to ensure that everyone who needs a coronavirus test should be able to have access to one.
"We have already begun testing social care workers and will roll this out nationwide over the coming days. And as we continue to ramp up our testing programme, we will test all current care home residents with coronavirus symptoms and all new care home residents who are discharged from hospital into care.
"Testing is key in our battle against coronavirus, and as part of our plan to prevent the spread and save lives we will ensure that everyone in social care who needs a test can have a test."
As the rollout continues, the Health Secretary has confirmed that every social care worker who needs a test can now get one.
As capacity grows it says it will prioritise the testing of symptomatic social care workers and anyone in their household who have COVID-19 symptoms.
CQC are leading co-ordination of testing for the care sector, and have already offered 6,000 care facilities the opportunity to test their staff. By the end of the week they will have contacted all 30,000 care providers.
Care providers will identify workers eligible for testing and refer them to their local testing centre.