A GMB poll of care workers in the private sector in Scotland has found two-thirds are worried about testing positive for coronavirus because they cannot afford to take time off work (Glasgow Times, 18 May).

In Scotland enhanced outbreak investigation is being undertaken in all care homes with positive cases. That involves testing of all residents and staff, whether or not they have symptoms, subject to their consent. But according to the GMB survey staff are reluctant to get tested if they cannot afford to take time off. 

Results from the survey of 600 care workers showed 78 per cent were worried about taking a test for fear of testing positive and having to take time off, losing money, and only 30 per cent of respondents had been tested for Covid-19. 

Ninety-six per cent of workers will not receive full pay from their employer if they are off with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, with many only receiving SSP.

Gary Smith, Scotland secretary for GMB Union, told the Glasgow Times: “When the roll-out of ‘whole home testing’ reaches a majority of homes and regions in Scotland, and covers asymptomatic as well as symptomatic staff, what exactly do the Scottish Government think is going to happen?″

“A testing regime that does not go hand in hand with full sick pay is undermined from the start.”

Scottish care home bosses have said that they will not pay full isolation and sick pay unless the government funds it. The latest government announcement of financial help for the care sector may improve that situation, but it is not guaranteed.

National Records of Scotland released data showing that 1438 of the 3213 deaths linked to coronavirus in Scotland up to May 10 have been in care homes. 

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