United Kingdom says working hard to fix problems with COVID testing

16 Septembre, 2020, 01:37 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • United Kingdom says working hard to fix problems with COVID testing

It will take a "matter of weeks" to resolve the problems around coronavirus testing, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.

NHS leaders have called for health workers and patients to be given priority after Government sources admitted that demand for tests is now far outstripping supply.

A shortage of COVID-19 testing in the United Kingdom is jeopardising 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.

Mr Hancock added: "I do not shirk from decisions about prioritisation".

"The problem is that NHS trusts are working in the dark - they don't know why these shortages are occurring, how long they are likely to last, how geographically widespread they are likely to be and what priority will be given to healthcare workers and their families in accessing scarce tests". But he faced a litany of complaints from lawmakers of all parties, furious that their constituents were unable to get the tests they need.

NHS leaders have called for health workers and patients to be given priority after Government sources admitted that demand for tests is now far outstripping supply. As a result, the demand for testing has risen, and the government was prioritizing who could get tested first.

"Trust leaders are frustrated that, throughout the pandemic, the government has always seemed more concerned with managing the political implications of operational problems rather than being open and honest about them - shortages of PPE and testing reagents earlier in the pandemic being good examples".

Acute clinical care is the top priority, with social care next on the list and now receiving more than 100,000 tests a day.

The Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary Jonathon Ashworth asked Mr Hanock why the NHS didn't use the Summer to expand NHS lab capacity for testing and "fix contact tracing".

The probe, exclusively conducted by LBC, found there were no tests available for the top 10 coronavirus hotspots in England. The government is increasing testing capacity, and over the past week the average distance traveled to test sites dropped to 5.8 miles (9.3 kilometers) from 6.4 miles (10.2 miles), he said.

He told the Commons: "Everyone in this House knows that we're doing more testing per head of population than nearly any other major nation, and I can update the House that we have now carried out over 20 million tests for coronavirus in this country".

"We've seen a sharp rise in people coming forward for a test, including those who are not eligible, " Hancock said.

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But he acknowledged the virus was spreading, both in the United Kingdom and around the world.

Dr Layla McCay, director at the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said: "Our members are telling us that lack of access to testing for staff is a major barrier to them delivering services and achieving targets set to restore services".

The shortage comes amid a surge in COVID-19 cases across the United Kingdom that has pushed daily positive tests to levels last seen in late May and forced the government to impose new controls on public gatherings. But the estimated cost for the program almost matches the NHS budget, Dr Chaand Nagpaul said in the text of a speech to be delivered Tuesday to the annual meeting of the doctor's union.

Opposition leader Sir Kier Starmer, who is now isolating after a family member displayed coronavirus symptoms, said the Government's handling of testing was "incompetent" and that it had failed to prepare over the summer for a rise in demand.

Britain advises those showing symptoms to get a test though it says the system has been burdened by people with no symptoms asking for tests.

Sir John told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think what's going wrong is the second wave".

"So I think they are definitely behind the curve in terms of getting the necessary tests for what we need today".

Hospital heads have warned that a lack of coronavirus testing for NHS staff is leading to staff absences and services at risk.

"Trusts also have a concern about the impact of testing shortages on patients who need to be tested prior to planned hospital treatment".

As a result of rising cases, the country could be in for a tough six months, they added.

They said that whereas younger people were most affected in recent weeks, this has now translated into older age groups catching the virus.

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