The Manc - A petition to test NHS frontline staff for COVID-19 has over 500,000 signatures"

A petition to test NHS frontline staff for COVID-19 has over 500,000 signatures

DFID - UK Department for International Development/Flickr

A junior doctor's campaign for NHS staff testing is gathering huge support amid the virus outbreak. 

Rebecca McCauley launched a petition addressed to Health Secretary Matt Hancock on 15 March, pleading with the government to introduce tests for health care workers.

Within 48 hours, it has accumulated almost half a million signatures.

Governor Tom Wolf/Flickr

The petition reads:

I have a dilemma. 
I have a cough. 

I’m a junior doctor, currently working in an emergency assessment unit. My cough is minor, and it’s March, so quite common to get a cough... but how do I know it’s not COVID-19? The truth is I don’t. 

So now I have to ask... do I stay off work for 7 days, leaving a shortfall of staff and putting further strain on the already strained NHS, when the likelihood is that I don’t actually have COVID-19?

OR, do I go to work with my minor cough (as I would normally) and risk potentially spreading COVID-19 to all of the sicker patients I see on a daily basis? 

This same dilemma is being faced by ALL NHS workers, including the cleaners (who are the unsung heroes in all of this!) Currently, tests are only being done on patients who require hospital admission. This virus will cause minor symptoms for most people, and relatively young and healthy staff are most likely to fall into that category. The issue is the patients we treat are not healthy, they are frail and vulnerable. Ask yourself this- if your loved one needs hospital care for a condition not related to Covid-19, would you want them to be treated by staff who are likely infected with it? If not, please help us out here. 

We WANT to stay in work. We are YOUR National Health Service. We are proud to serve but we need some common sense here...

I am petitioning for prioritisation of testing for NHS staff... so that those who need to stay away do so, with a clear conscience, and those who can work can do so, with a clear conscience. 

Portable Antiquities Scheme/Flickr

The UK's hesitancy to test health workers appears to be at odds with the advice issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO), with the director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus instructing nations to "test, test, test" as cases of coronavirus continue to climb.

South Korea, one of the worst-suffering countries for COVID-19, is doing as many as 10,000 tests a day and cases have plummeted.

Kang Kyung-wha, the country's foreign minister, has said: “Testing is central because it leads to every detection. It minimises further spread and it quickly treats those with the virus and that’s the key behind our very low fatality rate.”

You can sign Rebecca's petition online.

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