Hospital Dr News

Coronavirus test and trace system needs improvement and fast

The test and trace system for Coronavirus infection is on the verge of collapse, according to the leader of the opposition.

Sir Keir Starmer said the Government should have used the summer to get an effective system in place but had failed to do so.

It followed an apology by the Testing Director at NHS Test and Trace for poor performance – with many people unable to get a test, or being told to travel long distances if they want one.

In a tweet, Sarah-Jane Marsh explained it was the laboratories, not the testing sites themselves, that were the “critical pinch-point”.

It comes as coronavirus cases are rising and fears of a second lock down grow.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “The admission from Test and Trace’s own director of testing that lab capacity is at ‘critical pinch point’ underlines the urgent need for the Government to get a grip on the testing system that is clearly not delivering.

“In recent days we’ve heard concerning reports from doctors that they or their patients are unable to access tests and follow-up results at what is a critical time in the fight against Covid-19. These doctors are themselves frustrated but equally concerned for patients who are contacting them unsure of what to do.

“We’ve seen numbers of cases rise exponentially in the last two days, with warnings for the public not to be complacent – yet such a failure in testing strategy completely undermines any attempt to bring the infection rate down.

“An effective test and trace system is crucial in managing our response and reducing case numbers, and if people cannot get tested then there is no way of identifying local outbreaks and minimising community spread.”

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, told MPs that it would take two weeks to resolve the processing problems that have led to these problems.

But the following day, he said “inappropriate” use of the system by people with no symptoms was making it harder for people who needed tests to get one.

Nagpaul added: “The Government must provide an urgent update on how it plans to address this failure that seriously threatens England’s ability to reduce the spread of this deadly virus.”

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