Commenting on the Government’s next steps for living with COVID-19, including eligibility for access to free COVID testing, as set out in a written ministerial statement by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK said:
“Carers UK is deeply disappointed that tests will not be made free of charge to unpaid carers whether they are symptomatic or not.
“Having borne the brunt of the pandemic and gone to extraordinary lengths to protect their relatives, unpaid carers are now being asked to pay in order to protect those they care for who are at risk of COVID. This is a short-sighted move, that will make little sense to unpaid carers.
“Carers on low incomes, who are already facing spiralling bills they cannot meet, will not be in a position to pay for tests to know whether they have COVID-19 or not. Carers will be asking themselves who will provide the alternative care and who will pay for it if they think they have COVID-19? Can it be provided at very short notice? With social care stretched further than it’s ever been this is unlikely.
“For families who have been providing unpaid care, they face either hugely increased costs of caring or heightened anxiety and it will deepen health inequalities. This decision shows a lack of respect and understanding of what unpaid carers have done during the pandemic and continue to do.
“Carers UK raised this issue many times with the Government, with the UKHSA and with Parliamentarians and is now asking the Government to reconsider for unpaid carers.”