Delays in accessing Covid-19 tests continue to cause disruption among hospital doctor teams, according to a survey by the Royal College of Physicians tracking the impact of the pandemic on the workforce.

The survey of members found that 40% of doctors who are absent from work are self isolating and awaiting a test for someone in their household.

Among those doctors who have been able to access testing for themselves over the past two weeks, 80% were able to access testing within 24 hours, down from 88% in July. This comes as over half of doctors (53%) say Covid-19 admissions have increased in their hospital over the past fortnight.

As the threat of a second wave of Covid-19 draws closer, almost half of doctors (47%) says they’ve been involved in conversations with their organisations about preparing for it, and 90% feel their organisation is at least somewhat prepared for a second wave. However, 35% of doctors were still unsure that their organisation would have the necessary PPE to cope with a second peak of the virus.

Delays in Covid testing mean tackling winter with one hand tied behind our backs

Despite government guidance that all doctors should be formally assessed for their level of personal risk with regards to Covid-19, only 64% of doctors have had a formal assessment.

Professor Andrew Goddard president of the Royal College of Physicians said: “These results show the NHS is geared up for the impact of a second wave of Covid-19, and it’s a relief to see that so many of our members and their organisations feel prepared.

“However, testing remains an enormous issue. We must ensure that rapid testing and results are available for health and social care staff or we’ll end up tackling winter and the second wave with one hand tied behind our backs.

“The biggest issue is testing for household members. Delays in accessing these tests mean that hundreds of doctors are having to self-isolate while they wait, and are unavailable to provide care. As the infection rate rises, the need for tests will rise, and a large proportion of the workforce could be out of action simply for want of a test.”