DELAYS in receiving Covid-19 test results are "not good enough" and need to be improved to make the testing system effective.

Colin Cox, Cumbria's Director of Public Health, said he sympathises with care homes whose staff have experienced long waits for their results.

He said: “The issue of testing for care homes is exactly the same one as the testing for everyone else, it’s relying on what’s called pillar two capacity and when that’s stretched it is seeing some quite significant delays in the results coming back.

“I absolutely sympathise with what the care homes are saying. It’s not good enough.

“You can’t test and then wait for seven days, that makes the testing pretty pointless. You have to get the results back very quickly."

The Government has announced that care providers will be given an extra £546m to bolster infection control and help protect residents and staff throughout the winter.

But Mandy Farrer, owner and manager of The Knells Country House, said the main thing that will help would be to improve testing.

"Although the government has said they will help us out with wages for the people who are isolating, that's not the issue. The issue is we need to get people back to work because it's putting a strain on other members of staff who have to work extra shifts to cover because the tests are just not coming back quick enough."

Staff are routinely tested every seven days, and residents every 28 days, but they have waited up to a week for results.

"The whole thing is very nerve-wracking but we just need this testing sorted," Mrs Farrer continued.

"The Government can give us all the money in the world but it's not going to be practical if we don't have the staff and don't have the testing in place to back it up."

Care homes were also asked to help alleviate current pressures on the hospital discharge system, though discharges were not being forced upon them.

Mrs Farrer said isolating some patients, particularly those with dementia, would be difficult and would put a "massive" strain on staffing.

"We would only do it if we could guarantee to isolate that person for 14 days, so it would have to be somebody who full understood the reason why you were isolating them," she said.