THE Government’s failure to test ALL care home staff and residents for Covid-19 has become a national “scandal,” says a care home boss.

Dedicated staff at the Howard Court Care Home in Brampton are continuing to look after their 21 residents, whose ages range from 73 to 98 – and so far they have all remained free of the potentially deadly virus.

But health chiefs confirmed yesterday that the pandemic has already killed an estimated 167 elderly care home residents across Cumbria.

Howard Court’s owner Mike Dresser, 71, and his staff, fear that without blanket coronavirus testing they may unwittingly bring the virus into the home, creating unnecessary risk for residents, staff, and their families.

Despite promising to roll out testing for everybody in care homes – whether symptomatic or not – the government has confirmed this may not now happen for another three weeks.

This so infuriated Mike that has given his care home staff T-shirts, each with slogans that drive home the message: “Key worker – we need testing.”

“We’re doing all we can to protect our staff and residents,” said Mike, from Castle Carrock. “We’ve been ahead of the game when it came to PPE (personal protective equipment) and everybody’s temperature is taken at the start of a shift.

“But the current situation is putting everyone at risk.

“Every one of our residents is as important as Captain Tom [Moore], and all of our staff have families. I feel the government is being criminally neglectful over this issue. All our staff and residents should have access to testing. It’s scandalous they don’t.”

The latest government policy document on the issue says infection control in care homes is a top priority, and that it is now providing “swift testing of all symptomatic care home residents”.

It also says it will offer a Covid-19 test to all care home staff and residents in England, whether symptomatic or not, by June 6.

Sue Lane, from the home, added: “We signed up for testing but because we’re not symptomatic, they’re not letting us have the test. It’s a long time until June 6. We feel this is potentially putting lives at risk.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The government is working around the clock to make sure care homes and our frontline care workforce are getting the support they need to protect residents and tackle coronavirus.

“We have launched a new online portal to make it straight forward for care homes to arrange deliveries of coronavirus test kits. All care home staff and residents can now be tested, whether they have symptoms or not, with tens of thousands already tested.

“Further to this, all care homes can refer their staff to receive at home testing kits if they are self-isolating.”

However the document published on Tuesday said “the Government is providing widespread, swift testing of all symptomatic care home residents, and all patients discharged from hospital before going into care homes. It is offering a Covid-19 test to every staff member and resident in every care home in England, whether symptomatic or not; by June 6, every care home for the over 65s will have been offered testing for residents and staff.”