Excl: leaked email shows govt telling hospitals not to test staff for CV – and no test capacity at all in large area

York NHS trust shows government advice precludes testing staff – trust hoped to have ‘limited capacity’ for testing ‘by exception’
York Teaching Hospital

A leaked email has received the dire state of NHS readiness for the coronavirus crisis under the lack of preparation by Boris Johnson’s government.

The email, sent by the Medical Director for Professional Standards of York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust – which manages eight hospitals over an area of 3,400 square miles and including Scarborough, Bridlington and Hull – makes grim reading.

It reveals:

  • that the government has told hospitals not to test staff for the coronavirus, in spite of the continuing lack of personal protective equipment
  • the national inadequacy of testing capacity
  • that Boris Johnson’s claim that testing capacity was ten thousand rising 25,000 is in reality 7,000 rising to just 15,000
  • that the trust’s entire network had no testing capacity whatever – and only hoped to have capacity from this week
  • that its outsourced testing to Leeds is experiencing ‘significant delays’ that are expected to get worse
  • that even if capacity comes online, the trust only expects to have ‘limited capacity’ that might allow it to test critical front-line staff ‘by exception’
  • that trusts hope to test only staff already ill or self-isolating and in order to get them back to work – and not to prevent ‘well’ infected staff spreading the virus to their colleagues and patients

This last point is mirrored across the entire NHS in England, as leading medics revealed via the SKWAWKBOX earlier this week – in spite of the clear medical imperative to test all staff to prsotect health workers and patients.

The full email reads:

The SKWAWKBOX asked the Department of Health to confirm the UK’s current testing capacity and its expected imminent capacity – and how quickly the government intends to implement testing for all front-line staff.

No response was received, in spite of a promised deadline and a number of calls to chase an answer.

Former BMA deputy chair Dr Kailash Chand OBE wrote in the SKWAWKBOX on Tuesday:

Staff are the most valuable asset of our NHS. They will react with energy and flexibility, but urgent measures must be taken to support their health and wellbeing – for the benefit of all of us.

But leading doctors told the SKWAWKBOX that the decision to focus testing on patients and not on staff was the opposite of good practice – and is forcing doctors and nurses to inadvertently harm their patients by unwittingly infecting them:

it is unnecessary to swab symptomatic patients, since they should automatically be isolated, and treated as required.”

What [testing] capacity the UK has should be being used to make sure that front-line staff who have to deal with the infirm and elderly have regular tests so that they can know as far as possible that they are not spreading the disease to vulnerable groups.

The current UK strategy is completely at odds with this, whilst posing as based on “scientific” advice. Basically the government is deceiving the public by not admitting that their failing strategy that it is adopting, far from being the result of expert advice, is due to its own ill-preparedness.

As a result, the NHS will be overwhelmed with cases needing respiratory support, a significant percentage of whom will have acquired the infection from health or social care staff.

The doctors’ assessment has been tragically confirmed by the leaked email from a beleaguered NHS hospital.

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  1. This email is a week old. Do we have any evidence about the current instructions?

    1. And so what if it is a week old?

      We were getting told all was under control then, too. Talk about moving the deckchairs…

  2. The UK government, on its website, announced on 23)03, “status of COVID-19”
    As of March 19 2020, COVID- 19 is no longer considered to be a high consequence infectious deseases, (HCID) in the UK.

    So why no media announcement, you perhaps may have an answer, it seem to me that this is an excuse to restructure a failing global economy, and bring in a covert Marshall law, in the guise of quarantine.
    The elite must be laughing till their sides ache.
    Vic UK

    1. Conspiraloon alert ! Vic, there is a genuine global coronavirus pandemic you nutter. This internet conspiraloon nonsense should not be given a platform, Skwawkbox. Such nonsense just serves to undermine the willingness of people to continue the vital self quarantine strategy – that in the absence of adequate NHS resources, and mass testing, is the only way to avoid infection and , for oldies in particular, a very unpleasant death.

      1. Financial sector and corporates ‘making hay while the sun shines’. 4.5trillion $ in the hands of a 5 person panel to dish out and they don’t have to say where the noney is spent. all stinks.

  3. Today’s Tories are even useless at lying compared to yesterday’s – they didn’t used to get found out for 100 years, then it was right after the obituary, now it’s a week after the lie if they’re liar enough to be on the front benches.
    Their grandads would be ashamed.

    On the subject of martial law to ‘keep the peace’ once the more recently deceived Tory voters finally see BloJob and the rest of them for the useless, lying tossers they really are – I guarantee one of the tossers will already have asked the question in Cabinet:
    “Do we have enough sniper rifles?”

    Martial law declared by radio broadcast from the last plane to leave Heathrow will be their parting gift to an ungrateful nation that would have survived if only it had followed their perfectly sensible advice to starve at home instead of spreading CV.
    After all, no PM can think of every little thing and a country that can’t rely on its voluntary sector to take up the slack isn’t worth having, is it?

  4. We have the worst possible government to handle the virus. They are continually in semi- denial and font deal with serious situations in our hospitals, prisons and with the sudden increasing pressure on food supplies. To deal with these the only solution so far is to “consider” releasing some of the 50 pregnant prisoners, never mind America, Turkey and Israel and Iran are releasing men by the hundred thousand. These are countries as right wing as the UK but it seems we can ‘cope’. If the Army ends up policing prisons the Govt may well lose control and end up opening up prisons for a huge unplanned exit. But it’s ‘nothing’ compared to the food situation. Can anybody imagine Johnson’s band of weaklings getting to grips with a rationing system that is fair and effective?

  5. Came across the following book earlier by chance, and have just spent an hour or so reading the free sample, which seems to go on forever. And don’t be put off by the title, it’s very engaging and gets you hooked right from the start. The author – David Quammen – is new to me, but I will definitely be investing in some of his books (also check out The Song of the Dodo):

    Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic

    1. PS I should point out that it was published in 2012, but he does in fact refer to the Next Big One (HIV being the last big one) perhaps emanating out of a rainforest, or ‘a market in southern China’.

  6. Bozo Bunter’s strategy is to make promises that the cheque is in the post whilst saving all the resources for when things get really bad. We can’t have the gov accused of not having the NHS prepared can we?

  7. Vic, yes we are quite clearly in Martial Law, and I say again that despite the PR the “herd immunity” policy appears to be continuing…..

  8. The housing market is in the news today – government advice is to delay completion in the name of social distancing.
    If enough home owners die, prices will fall as supply exceeds demand – anyone selling now or holding off on buying is likely to be a winner – anyone buying now might soon find the new house is worth less than they’ve borrowed.
    A price crash echoing the mid/late 1980’s is hard to argue against if a whole lot of home owners ‘leave the market’.
    We could see recent buyers handing keys in to lenders and walking away again.
    It doesn’t take a genius to see that this is a time for waiting and seeing – and I’m no genius so I’m obviously right.

      1. So am I right in thinking that the only high profile people so far to (reportedly) test positive for CV just happen to be Prince Charley and the PM? And within a couple of days of each-other, and both just happen to have mild symptoms!

      2. I wasn’t addressing You. Perhaps I should have pointed that out.

      3. Allan – fair enough, but could you please clarify the point you are trying to make.

  9. Just came across the following website re CV stats, and just out of interest compared the UK stats with the Italy stats, and I really don’t know what to make of them. The Italy stats are of course significantly higher (for both ‘Active’ and ‘Closed’ cases), but what seems remarkable is the difference between the number of people who recovered and the number who died. In the UK, out of 713 ‘Closed Cases’, 19% recovered, and 81% died (at time of writing) whereas in Italy, of the 18,576 Closed Cases, 56% recovered and 44% died (to see the Italian stats, scroll down the page and click on Italy):

    1. Our cases are so new that there hasn’t been time for cases to be closed unless the patient has died – the others are still recovering.
      Also, there’s so little testing here that only the extremely ill (and Prince Charles and Boris Johnson of course) have been tested.

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