IN the third of a series of special articles ahead of Dementia Action Week, Courant reporter Georgia Langdon gathers reaction on the ending of free lateral flow testing.

THOUSANDS of people in Northumberland face paying more than £70 a month to safely visit loved ones living with dementia in care homes after a controversial decision to scrap free lateral flow tests in April.

The announcement, included in the Government’s ‘Living with Covid-19’ plan, has been labelled a potentially “deadly mistake” by Alzheimer’s Society - the UK’s leading dementia charity.

Alzheimer’s Society research shows that 900,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia; those with the condition were the worst hit by the pandemic, with more than 30,000 losing their lives to the virus.

“Free lateral flow tests are a crucial part of protecting people living with dementia in care homes”, said Danielle Cooper, area manager for Alzheimer’s Society in Northumberland. “And it is essential their loved ones have free access to them so they can visit safely.

“A lack of testing when people were shockingly discharged into care homes at the start of the pandemic resulted in tens of thousands of residents catching the virus and by not offering free tests to visitors, the Government is in danger of repeating the same, deadly mistake.”