Steve May 22, 2020

“Mr Speaker, I’m afraid he is simply in ignorance of the facts. Because the reality is that already 125,000 care home staff have been tested, 118,000—perhaps he didn’t know that Mr Speaker—118,000 care home workers have been tested and we are absolutely confident that we will be able to increase our testing not just in care homes but across the whole of the community.”

Boris Johnson, 20 May 2020

During Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson claimed that 125,000 “care home staff” have been tested and that 118,000 “care home workers” have been tested for Covid-19. This was a mistake. The Department of Health and Social Care told us that nearly 125,000 staff in care settings and over 118,000 care home residents have been tested. It also confirmed that these figures were since the start of the pandemic.

“Care settings” as a term can include settings other than care homes. Therefore, the 125,000 workers in care settings who have been tested may not all have been working in care homes. We have asked DHSC to clarify this.

The care home testing figures quoted by Mr Johnson do not appear to be published online or otherwise publicly available. DHSC has not responded to a query about where this information can be found. 

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) has called for the government to ensure it publishes data that is used in public debate or to inform Parliament. Full Fact supports this call.

The OSR said: “Given the volume of data flowing around government and the pace at which things are changing, there are inevitably instances when unpublished figures are being quoted in the public domain. It is right that ministers have access to up to date information.

“It is also right that this information is shared with the media and the public, but it remains important this is done in a way that promotes transparency and clarity. Otherwise it has the potential to cause confusion and undermine confidence in the statistics and organisations that produce them.”

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