An Alzheimer’s Society poll has revealed 67 per cent of London residents disagree with the Government’s decision to scrap free lateral flow tests for care home visitors – and only 21per cent agree with the plans.
The results of the poll come as an Alzheimer’s Society petition, calling on the Health Secretary to reverse the decision, passed 5,000 signatures in less than a week, with more than 493 signatures coming from London.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to scrap free Covid-19 tests for people visiting loved ones in care homes, as part of the wider scheme to end free testing from April 1 in the Government’s ‘Living with Covid-19’ plan.
A major high street pharmacy chain then confirmed it would be selling five lateral flow tests for £12. So a regular visitor to an old people’s home would pay out £73 a month.
Visits from loved ones are essential to the health and wellbeing of people with dementia – who make up 70 per cent of care home residents.
Surveys so dementia symptoms have worsened during the pandemic due to long periods of isolation away from loved ones.
London Alzheimer’s Society head Marion Child said: “Lateral flow tests offer vital reassurance to families desperate to protect their loved ones with dementia from Covid.
Following the devastating levels of infection and deaths in care homes that was caused by insufficient testing in the early part of the pandemic, there is a risk that we face repeating this deadly mistake.
“With over 78,600 living with dementia in London families should not be financially penalised for trying to do their best and keep their vulnerable loved ones safe.
Throughout the pandemic, care home residents have been the first to endure the risks and the last to enjoy the freedoms.
“Public opposition is clear, it’s time for the Government to rethink their plans and make lateral flow tests free for all visitors to care homes.”
In the early stages of the pandemic, thousands of patients were promptly discharged from hospitals.
The majority of those discharged were not tested for Covid-19, which led to the virus spreading quickly in those homes and high death rates.
During the pandemic, more than 34,000 people with dementia have died of Covid-19 – many of those were residents in care homes.