Hancock confirms new prioritisation list for Covid-19 tests

Virus test shortages harming health system, say UK hospitals

"I don't deny that it is an enormous challenge and when you have a free service, it's inevitable that demand rises", Health Secretary Matt Hancock told parliament. 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.

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".

Chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul will say in a speech later today: "Down here on planet Earth, we need a fit-for-purpose test and trace system in the here and now with capacity, agility and accessibility that doesn't require 100-mile journeys that disadvantage some of the most vulnerable".

Coronavirus tests in England will be rationed as the Government struggles to get to grips with soaring demand amid warnings that the country faces a tough six months in the battle with Covid-19.

Britain eventually wants to be able to carry out millions of COVID-19 tests a day, known as Mr Johnson's "Operation Moonshot" plan for mass testing, but doing so depends on new technology being developed, Mr Hancock told Parliament.

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday she was seeking "urgent discussions" with the United Kingdom government over delays in people receiving their test results.

"We are in for a rough few weeks", one source told the Times, as hospitals and care homes increasingly complain about the insufficient amount of testing kits they receive.

He said NHS trusts are "working in the dark", unaware of why the shortages are occurring, how long they might last, how widespread they are, and what priority will be given to healthcare workers and their families in accessing scarce tests.

United Kingdom ministers are drawing up plans to restrict "frivolous demands" for coronavirus tests, conceding that they didn't expect there would be so many people willing to take them, the Times reported, adding that despite a staggering 200,000 tests being carried out each day, demand is still much higher.

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


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

Mr Hancock acknowledged that it might be "a matter of weeks" before the problems are resolved. 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.

Britain advises those showing symptoms should get a test though it says the system has been burdened by people with no symptoms asking for tests, while some schools have demanded any ill students get a test or stay away for 14 days.

A government website providing statistics on coronavirus testing shows that the number of tests processed each day, which was around 200,000 last week, is by far exceeded by the existing estimated total testing capacity reported by the laboratories, which amounted to over 374,000 tests per day as of September 10.

"I think what's going wrong is the second wave", Bell told the BBC.

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

"Since then in my constituency I have had two Farnham residents sent to Bristol for their tests, a councillor sent to the Isle of Wight for her test and a teacher who tested positive had to wait a week for her results".

Lord Bethell of Romford, the testing minister, told peers yesterday that "we are throwing everything we can at the test and trace system", acknowledging though that demand had been too high.

NHS Providers said a lack of testing also hindered preparations for winter, as hospitals could become more crowded due to Covid-19 and seasonal flu.

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