Hospice nurse unable to treat patients due to Covid-19 test shortage

A hospice nurse has been unable to return to work due to a lack of available coronavirus tests, while the shortage has also forced a couple in their 80s to sleep in separate rooms.

Signs of strain on testing capabilities have caused long queues in parts of the UK, with many unable to get tests and others being offered tests hundreds of miles from their homes.

Samuel Austin, from Faversham, Kent, said he has been trying for 48 hours to book a Covid test, after his young son started showing symptoms on Sunday.

The situation has meant Mr Austin’s son cannot return to nursery and left his wife, a nurse at a local hospice, unable to work.

His wife’s hospice is not part of the NHS so she does not receive priority testing.

“Everything we submit we get ‘this service is very busy. Please try later’ or if we get through to finding a test site, we are told no site is available to see us,” the 35-year-old project manager told the PA news agency.

“The testing process is not fit for purpose. Regardless of the current uptake in test request, we should have been prepared.

“Ultimately my disappointment is for my son and my wife. I feel powerless to help them and it shouldn’t be this way.”

Matthew, who did not wish to share his second name, said his 80-year-old mother in Leicestershire has been unable to book a test for more than 48 hours, despite showing two of the Government’s three key Covid-19 symptoms.

She has a number of health issues which require her to shield and is the primary caregiver for Matthew’s father, 86, who is partially blind.

Matthew said the couple have been sleeping in separate rooms and she has been administering her husband’s eye drops wearing a mask, in an effort to protect him from potential coronavirus.

Elderly woman
Elderly woman

“I would have thought an 80-year-old woman with underlying health issues… should be made a priority,” Matthew, 54, told PA.

“I even got close to clicking key worker on the online form for getting a test, because I thought, in a way, she’s a key worker for my dad.

“And someone else said if she tells them she’s got chest pains they’re obliged to send an ambulance… but you know, she doesn’t want to tell lies.”

Matthew, who lives 150 miles away in Lancashire, said his mother has been able to speak with a nurse but they were unable to provide a test directly and asked her to keep trying.

Moz Bulbeck Reynolds, from West Berkshire, said she has been unable to send her nine-year-old daughter Matilda to school this week due to the testing issues.

Having stayed at home last Thursday and Friday with cold symptoms, Matilda was refused entry on Monday until she received a test, as per the local council’s rules.

Moz Bulbeck Reynolds and her daughter Matilda
Moz Bulbeck Reynolds and her daughter Matilda

However, Ms Bulbeck Reynolds said she could not book one despite trying “almost constantly” since 9.30am on Monday through the Government’s website.

“I feel sorry for my daughter, rejected at the school gate. It made me feel like a failure as a parent,” the 45-year-old told PA.

“I’m also not going to allow that feeling to stick of personal failure, I refuse to be gaslit by this Government.”

The school has said Matilda either needs to be tested or quarantined for 10 days.

Ms Bulbeck Reynolds has now been able to book a test for 5pm on Tuesday, but it is in Cardiff, more than 70 miles from her home.