A petition for frontline NHS staff to be tested for Covid-19 has reached a million signatures.
Started by junior doctor Rebecca McCauley, it expresses fears that NHS staff who are experiencing cough or cold symptoms could potentially be passing coronavirus onto vulnerable patients.
It also points out: “I’m a junior doctor, currently working in an emergency assessment unit. My cough is minor, and it’s March, so quite common to get a cough… but how do I know it’s not COVID-19? The truth is I don’t.
“So now I have to ask… do I stay off work for 7 days, leaving a shortfall of staff and putting further strain on the already strained NHS, when the likelihood is that I don’t actually have COVID-19?
“Or, do I go to work with my minor cough (as I would normally) and risk potentially spreading COVID-19 to all of the sicker patients I see on a daily basis?”
It comes amid frustrations about the government’s position on testing after the World Health Organisation (WHO) said countries must “test, test, test”.
Boris Johnson told a press conference on Thursday: “We’re massively increasing the testing to see whether you have it now and ramping up daily testing from 5,000 a day, to 10,000 to 25,000 and then up at 250,000. […]
“That knowledge of where the virus is will make a huge difference to our management of the disease and our ability to reduce disruption and economic difficulty.”
Chief medical officer Chris Whitty echoed the prime minister, saying: “The key thing that we need to do is get this testing out. […] Get the NHS workers so we can test them quickly and then, if they’ve got it, fine, they continue but they know they’ve had it once. If they’ve not got it, they can come back to work, or if the reason they’ve stayed at home is that someone else in their family has got the symptoms, we would test them and see if they’ve got it.”
McCauley added: “I am petitioning for prioritisation of testing for NHS staff… so that those who need to stay away do so, with a clear conscience, and those who can work can do so, with a clear conscience.”
Signatory Anne Callaghan wrote: “This is just total common sense – incredible someone has to start a petition to get it done.”
Amanda Henshaw added: “I am a nurse and my priority is to protect patients and families. I need to know if I am safe to work.”
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