Birmingham care home boss calls on Covid isolation restrictions to be relaxed

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The chief Executive of Healthcare Management Solutions has called on the government to reduce restrictions further

The boss of a Birmingham-based care home group with 2,300 staff has said people with Covid who are asymptomatic should not be required to isolate.

Tony Stein, chief executive of Healthcare Management Solutions (HCMS), which has around 60 care homes in the UK, said around 500 of its workers have had to isolate at some point during the pandemic, despite most having no symptoms.

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The Birmingham firm, which owns some care homes and runs others for investors, currently has more than 100 staff isolating, a spokesman said.

Mr Stein called on the government to go a step further than it already has – after dropping the requirement for people who have tested positive on a lateral flow test to then have a PCR – and remove isolation for those who were otherwise well.

‘It’s time to accept that asymptomatic people shouldn’t isolate’

He backed up his call by saying the Omicron variant was “drastically milder” and that care home staff must be fully vaccinated, along with most residents.

Mr Stein said: “We now have had more than 500 team members – around a quarter of our workforce – who have tested positive for Covid.

“Most of them have been asymptomatic.

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“The removal of the PCR element of the isolation period is welcome but we should go a step further and remove isolation periods entirely for these people.

“In a highly vaccinated population like the UK, where a drastically milder version of Covid is becoming prevalent, it is time for the government and public to accept that asymptomatic people shouldn’t isolate.

“Evidence suggests that if you’re double vaccinated and boosted – like all social care staff are mandated to be – you aren’t going to get seriously ill.

“A vast majority of residents are also vaccinated.

“There is a flaw in the argument that the purpose of isolation is to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed.

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“Most people with Covid are not ending up in hospital and those that are are less ill and for a shorter time.”

Mr Stein said a lack of care staff due to isolation rules meant there was a backlog of patients who were ready to leave hospital but had no place to go to.

He said: “In December, there were roughly 14,000 patients who had been stuck in a hospital bed for over three weeks.

“Nearly 9,000 of these were deemed ready for discharge, but the number of carers isolating meant care homes didn’t have the staffing levels to receive them.

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“This clearly has a knock-on effect and is preventing other patients from receiving treatment.”

A lack of care home staff also made it difficult to manage visitors for residents – to the detriment of those missing their families, Mr Stein added.

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