A number have written to me raising concerns about the end of free testing and effect on care homes.
Over the last two years of the pandemic, many of us experienced lots of emotions, anxiety, fear, frustration and grief as we watched friends, colleagues and loved ones succumb to Covid19. Now as our vaccination programme has driven up immunity we can experience more positive feelings that the worst is behind us.
This led to a reassessment on how we target support for the health and care workforces. No matter how effective vaccines are, there will always be people who are at higher risk than others.
Free asymptomatic testing will continue to be provided to staff in adult care services during periods of high prevalence as well as for a small number of care home visitors and visiting professionals who provide personal care. All other visitors will no longer need to test upon entry.
The Government will continue to provide PPE as circumstances demand and individuals who are still deemed clinically vulnerable will receive a further vaccination to give an additional boost to immunity.
This means it will not cost anybody to visit a care home and visitation can continue but if the staff do request a test from you, it will be made available by the care home teams. Anybody testing positive will still be asked not to visit a care home and protect the most vulnerable.
Thanks to everyone's hard work, particularly those in the health and care sector, we are once again becoming a healthier, happier and more open society. The Government will continue to provide support and adapt policy as needed but hopefully we will see the virus become more endemic and less of a worry in the future.
Finally for those working in health or care - do remember that the IPC Champion Network continues to grow and share specialist knowledge. You can join up online at https://www.qni.org.uk/nursing-in-the-community/infection-prevention-and-control-champions/