Husband faces having to cut visits to wife of 60 years when free Covid tests end
Video report from ITV News Meridian's Christine Alsford
A man says he could be forced to cut the number of visits he makes to his wife's care home when free lateral flow tests are scrapped at the end of this month.
Alan Beechey, from Worthing, West Sussex, makes regular trips to see his wife Veronica who has dementia. He is now urging the government to rethink its plans, as he says having to pay for regular tests will cost too much.
Though free tests will no longer be widely available, care homes will still need proof of a negative Covid 19 result from visitors to protect vulnerable residents.
Mr Beechey says his visits to his wife's care home are the highlight of their days. The couple have just celebrated 60 years of marriage with flowers, chocolates and congratulations from the queen.
Alan says he will do whatever he has to do to see his wife
Alan said: "I need to go and see her, and she needs me to go. I would say it's crucial for both our well-being.
"I'd be concerned about it. Whether it meant I went less often, it might do, but I would do whatever I've got to do."
One charity has calculated that many relatives will face costs of more than £70 a month each, if they make daily visits, and have to buy those tests over the counter in future.
The Alzheimer's Society is urging the government to rethink its plans, saying care home visitors must still be entitled to free lateral flows.
Latest figures from the charity have revealed around 70% of care home residents have some form of dementia.
Gavin Terry, Head of Policy at Alzheimer's Society says the decision to scrap free tests 'isn't fair'
Gavin Terry, the Head of Policy at Alzheimer's Society, said: "Unfortunately it's going to make people either have to choose between buying tests or cutting down somewhere else.
"We don't think that's fair, to put them out of pocket at a time when they are already facing other increasing costs."
More than 30,000 people with dementia died during the worst of the Covid 19 pandemic, with many more deteriorating dramatically during months of not being visited by loved ones.
The government won't be drawn on whether any free tests will be provided after April 1st, or whether testing for care homes could soon go all together.
In a statement, a government spokesperson said: "We continue to review all our COVID-19 measures for adult social care in line with the latest scientific advice.
"We will provide further details of any changes in due course."
The care home that looks after Veronica say they currently have a stockpile of covid tests, enough to supply to residents for months to come.
But some are worried about what happens when that supply runs out.