News in brief: Coronavirus testing reduced for most care home staff
The coronavirus testing programme for staff in care homes will move from weekly to fortnightly from next Monday.
Last month Health Minister Vaughan Gething MS, announced an extension to 9 August of the programme of weekly testing of care homes workers that was introduced in June and indicated it would move to a fortnightly cycle if rates of Covid-19 infection within care homes remained low.
Because of concerns over infection rates in north Wales, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board area will continue weekly testing for the next eight weeks at least.
Mr Gething also confirmed that from next Monday NHS Wales laboratories will only be used for testing any staff and residents in care homes who are presenting symptoms of Covid-19 and in response to any outbreaks in care homes. All regular testing of staff will be carried out through the UK portal and the Lighthouse laboratories.
In a statement announcing the changes, Mr Gething wrote: “I am pleased to report that thanks to the vigilance and commitment of care home managers and staff, prevalence rates have continued to remain at low levels. Accordingly, the majority of care homes will move to a fortnightly testing cycle from 10 August. We will continue to closely monitor the data and I will review the policy in eight weeks, in early October.”
Seven new deaths from coronavirus have been reported in the last 24 hours. Six of those deaths were in the Betsi Cadwaladr health board region.
The total numbers of deaths due to the virus in Wales now stands at 1,578.
The total number of infections reported by Public Health Wales has increased to 17,406 after 17 new cases were confirmed since yesterday.
There were 5,019 tests carried out on Thursday.
Government “frighteningly slow” in introducing Covid-19 intervention strategy
Plaid Cymru has accused the Welsh Government of being too slow in adopting an early intervention strategy for patients with Covid-19 symptoms, potentially costing hundreds of lives.
Plaid Cymru health spokesperson Rhun ap Iorwerth wrote to the Health Minister Vaughan Gething in March and April, urging the government to promote blood oxygen tests and the use of CPAP breathing support as a means of detecting Covid-19 early in people with relevant symptoms, and providing earlier treatment to avoid the need for intensive care ventilation.
Evidence showed both measures could save lives and take pressure off the NHS.
On Tuesday Mr Gething issued new guidance that described oxygen levels in the blood as the “most important part of the clinical assessment” for Covid-19 and revealed that several thousand pulse oximeters, a portable device that measures oxygen levels, are being sent to GP surgeries in over the coming weeks.
GP’s have also been advised to increase to increase the number of tests they perform.
“International evidence has consistently highlighted that intervening earlier, through the use of pulse oximeters, CPAP machines and blood oxygen level tests, could lead to better outcomes in Covid-19 positive cases,” Mr ap Iorwerth said.
“Plaid Cymru has, on many occasions over a period of months, asked Welsh Government to adopt this medical approach – in correspondence with the Health Minister, during questions in the Senedd, and in the Covid core group meetings with the Welsh Government.
“But they have been frighteningly slow in reacting, leading to months of inaction between the correspondence and the change in approach and a further 2-month delay in informing the Senedd and the public. This delay could have cost many lives.”
Tories criticise moves to cut evictions
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Local Government and Housing Mark Isherwood MS, has called on the government to reconsider the change to the law that requires private landlords in Wales to give six months’ notice before evicting tenants.
A temporary increase in the notice period for eviction was introduced last month to prevent people being made homeless during the coronavirus pandemic.
The change means that unless a tenant is being evicted on the grounds of anti-social behaviour, they will be entitled to six months’ notice instead of three.
“There is an incredibly delicate situation that requires a balancing of the rights of tenants in privately-rented accommodation with the rights of the landlords and owners of the properties,” Mr Isherwood said:
“There appears to be a lack of consultation with stakeholders, as well a failure to investigate the possible effects of the move, a view echoed by the Legislation, Justice, and Constitution Committee in the Welsh Parliament.
“Landlords – as well as tenants – have needs, and their voices and views must be heard to ensure the implementation of policy that is fair for all.
“However, the result could be landlords becoming increasingly insecure about the future, which would likely lead to serious repercussions for the sector with some of the hardest hit landlords removing their properties from the rental market.
“Ultimately, tenants would then lose access to good-quality accommodation, and so I call on the Minister to reconsider this policy.”
Surge in adoption enquiries as services go online
Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Julie Morgan has announced funding of £2.3m for adoption services as new figures revealed that enquiries for services surged during lockdown
Initial figures from the National Adoption Service indicate a 36% increase in adoption enquiries in Wales during April – June 2020 in comparison to the same period last year.
Following the introduction of lockdown restrictions, the National Adoption Service moved visits to prospective adopters and adoption panels online. As a result, the service has not only received more interest in adoption, but there has also been an 18% increase in adopter assessments started during lockdown.
This funding continues the investment package awarded to the adoption service in 2019 and will maintain the development of adoption support services in Wales and support local authorities and voluntary adoption agencies to strengthen and enhance existing services.
The £2.3m will:
- support the Adopting Together programme, which aims to support children who wait 12 months or more to find an adoptive family
- continue the roll-out of the Therapeutic Education Support Services in Adoption scheme in Wales including:
- clinical psychology-based family assessment
- support psychology / education courses
- a national peer support network
- provide a new support and information service for children and young people
- promote life journey work to help a child make sense of their past and understand their future
- help develop best practice frameworks for adoption support and evaluate the National Adoption Service improvement programme and the framework
To find out more about adoption and the support available visit adoptcymru.com.