Freedom of Information (FoI) requests obtained by The Telegraph have revealed that over 100 CQC inspectors reported COVID-19 symptoms or have had to self-isolate.
Last week, the GMB Union warned of the threat of CQC inspectors potentially becoming super-spreaders of COVID-19 after they were refused testing by the Government.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) stated that CQC inspectors were not required to be within 1 metre of a resident to carry out their role, and so do not meet the criteria for weekly asymptomatic testing.
A CQC Spokesperson said: “DHSC has advised us that CQC inspectors do not meet the criteria for regular weekly asymptomatic testing, as inspectors are not required to undertake ‘hands on’ close personal contact with people. We remain in regular contact with DHSC on this and will continue to keep this under review.
“All CQC staff engaging in inspection and registration visits must undertake a risk assessment prior to the visit. They must use the PPE identified, have gone through training on its use, and have completed the Infection Prevention and Control training.
“This approach is in line with what has been agreed for other professionals. DHSC will continually review their policies as more evidence emerges during the pandemic, and if the evidence means the criteria needs to change, they will advise us accordingly.”
A Department of Health and Social Care Spokesperson added: “Our testing policy is based on scientific advice to limit the spread of COVID-19 and prioritises health and care staff who are in direct, personal and regular contact with patients and residents.
“CQC inspectors do not have close contact with residents and are expected to follow proper infection prevention and control measures at all times – including social distancing, correct use of PPE and hand washing to stop the spread of the virus.”