Coronavirus: Health Secretary says it will take 'weeks' to fix testing chaos

  • Coronavirus: Health Secretary says it will take 'weeks' to fix testing chaos

Coronavirus: Health Secretary says it will take 'weeks' to fix testing chaos

Home Secretary Priti Patel also denied there was anything close to a testing crisis.

Issues have included huge queues for tests, people reporting they have been unable to get tests, and others being offered tests hundreds of miles from their homes. She told the BBC that more testing slots and home testing kits were being made available as demand had risen and most people didn't need to travel more than 10 miles.

It emerged that some mobile testing units in England had had their daily capacity slashed from 300 tests to 60 as Mr Hancock tried to clear a backlog at labs. "And throughout this pandemic we have prioritized testing according to need".

Writing in The Sun, Steve Chalke added: "The reason is either pupils or teachers have symptoms and can't return until they get a negative test result".

"And also, critically, they are now preparing for winter and if they have staff unable to come and work on the front line because they haven't had tests that's going to make it incredibly hard for them". Authorities underestimated the speed at which more testing capacity would be needed, Bell said, warning that the problem could get worse.

"Chief executives in Leeds, Bristol and London... were saying that [they] have got staff off that they simply can not afford to have off", Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers - an organization of NHS trusts representing hospital staff, told Sky News.

"Not only is it access to the tests for the employees themselves, it is also access for their family members as NHS workers have to self-isolate if their family members are unable to confirm whether or not they have Covid-19".

A shortage of COVID-19 testing in the jeopardizing efforts to restore medical services and prepare for a potential surge in coronavirus cases this winter, the group that represents hospitals in England said Tuesday. They need to know all this information so that they can plan accordingly. "For example, trusts need to know if they should try to create or re-establish their own testing facilities as quickly as possible", he added.

"As demand has risen, so we are having to prioritise once again - and I do not shirk from decisions about prioritisation".

He told BBC Two's Newsnight: "I think we have got two or three weeks to fix these things".

"Children are being sent home who can not get tests, and parents are being forced to take two weeks off to look after them".

The latest government figures show that 220,000 tests are processed each day even though the country's testing capacity is more than 350,000 - which includes swab tests and antibody tests. Both approaches ignore the operational problem at hand.

"The trust leaders that we have talked to told us: 'Could we, please, have a little less of the political communication pretending that all is well and a little bit honesty about what is going on, so that we can actually deal with this?'" he revealed.

Professor Alan McNally, director of the institute of microbiology and infection at the University of Birmingham, told the BBC there were "clearly underlying issues which nobody wants to tell us about", together with increased need for testing. "A month ago, they had spare capacity in testing -significant spare capacity - but I think what has been underestimated was the speed at which the second wave would arrive". "If we don't, the worry is we'll never gain control as we head into autumn and winter".

But he said a surge in demand for tests "was always going to happen at this time of year".

One described the testing system as "a bloody mess".

"The government is now shooting for the moon promising to deliver mass continuous testing with a test that doesn't yet exist at a cost almost as much as the total NHS budget", he said.

The health secretary said the testing system faced an "enormous challenge" after a "sharp rise" in people had begun seeking a test.

Bolton has the highest infection rate in England.

Council chiefs have urged the Government to treat "major flaws" with the online booking system for tests as "a matter of the utmost priority".

He said the NHS "simply can't spare members of staff waiting for tests not being able to come into work" and patients unable to be tested.

"So extra demand on the system was inevitable, so why didn't he use the summer to significantly expand NHS lab capacity and fix contact tracing?"