STROUD MP Siobhan Baillie has said she is not against the regular testing of NHS staff despite being among 331 Conservative MPs who opposed a motion calling for weekly COVID-19 tests for care workers.
Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour party, with Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Jon Ashworth and Liz Kendall, had brought the motion, in a bid for greater protective measures to be rolled out in the health system.
But it was voted down by more than 300 MPs, including Jeremy Hunt who had called for a weekly testing himself on the same day.
Responding to Labour’s calls, Royal College of Nursing director of nursing Susan Masters said testing NHS staff for COVID-19 was critical as discussions around resuming normal services increase.
“Testing of health and care workers and the people they are caring for – even if they have no symptoms – has to be a priority,” she said.
Dr Allin-Khan tweeted: “Yesterday, (we) brought a motion to Parliament calling on the Government to introduce weekly testing of NHS and care staff.
“331 Conservative MPs voted against it, even though they spent many Thursdays clapping for carers.”
In a statement on her Facebook page Siobhan Baillie said: “I am disappointed Labour has done this with such an important issue just to mislead and worry people for a few social media headlines.
“I am not against regular testing of NHS staff. I am actually in favour of NHS staff testing policy as advised by the Chief Medical Officer, not Labour’s Opposition Day motion, which lacked any detail and was designed solely as a political stunt.
“If you read the motion you will see there is no examination of costing, no attempt to address the practical problems associated with undertaking blanket testing weekly, no scientific evidence on the merits of testing and what it will achieve – in fact, absolutely nothing of any substance, just ‘vote for it because it will gain a few headlines’.
“Government doesn’t work like that and Labour knows it.
“It was interesting to hear the Shadow Health Secretary say in his opening remarks that Labour wanted weekly testing of NHS staff, “if necessary”.
“Well, regular testing, including weekly testing if it is deemed necessary, is essentially what the current government policy is and that’s because it is the clinically-informed approach not a ‘let’s try and attempt a misleading social media pile in’.”