On 20th April I wrote to the Secretary Of State for Health & Social Care, Matt Hancock to press him to ensure that all key workers were included in the testing regime which had been announced. I have not yet had a reply, which is disappointing, but by the time I do, I hope more of the issues I have brought up are addressed. You can see a copy of the letter I sent here.
As you are probably aware, we have the main drive-in testing site located in Portsmouth for the whole central south coast area and I'm pleased to say that last week Mr Hancock agreed with my request and announced that all key workers, whether they be supermarket workers, police, NHS staff, care staff, charity workers, teachers and many more who have been designated key workers during the COVID-19 pandemic (click here for the full list of eligible workers) would be able to get tested if they have coronavirus symptoms.
This is coupled with the welcome news that care home staff will be tested at the same time as residents when mobile testing units visit. This goes some way to putting social care staff on a par with NHS staff which I also requested in my letter.
All this is good news, but there's still more than needs done on testing. For example, tests are being sent to care homes that have no people with COVID-19 symptoms in them but they are not able to send them to homes that do because of 'administrative reasons'. This is part of the issues that we are still finding with the testing systems being unnecessarily overcomplicated and bureaucratic. I'm committed to putting the needs of the people of Portsmouth first and will continue to push until testing is as easy to access as possible and at the level, we need in our city.
Your Portsmouth Lib Dem administration is working with other parties on the council and with local employers to ensure key workers get the support they need and that all sections of the community are engaged and supported.
I will continue to update you on our work to fight for Portsmouth residents and our hard-working key workers. Keep safe.
Cllr Matthew Winnington
Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing & Social Care
For further local or national information about the Coronavirus pandemic please click the links below: