A Labour MP has branded test and trace a “shambles” after saying her constituents were having difficulty accessing coronavirus tests.
Helen Hayes, who represents Dulwich and West Norwood, said on Twitter that people were reportedly struggling to access both test appointments and home test kits, and called for constituents to contact her to help “build up a picture of extent of issues locally”.
Her comments came after she was tweeted by a Twitter user who said the government website was saying no home tests were available.
Many reports from constituents of difficulty accessing test appointments & home testing kits. If this is your experience please email me so I can build up a picture of extent of issues locally. As schools & universities return & Covid cases increase, test & trace is a shambles https://t.co/XHICEGhxpZ
— Helen Hayes (@helenhayes_) September 7, 2020
It is not clear if the issues experienced in the area are affecting other places too.
The Department of Health and Social Care told Yahoo News UK it had not run out of tests but that it could “pause the booking portal for short periods” during periods of high demand.
Test and trace is seen as key to keeping coronavirus cases under control, allowing officials to understand where problematic areas are and get affected people to isolate at home.
— Amelia Torode (@Amelia_Torode) September 7, 2020
Twitter user Amelia Torode posted screenshots of the government’s testing website including one saying there “are no more home tests available” and to try again later.
Another screenshot shows a message saying no drive-through test sites or walk-in sites were available either.
Tottenham MP David Lammy said a pupil in his constituency had been directed to get a drive-through test in Inverness, which he described as “bonkers”.
A constituent has just got in touch upset that the nearest drive-through COVID test a pupil in Tottenham has been offered is in Inverness. The result is they are being kept home from school. This is bonkers. The government needs to quickly explain and fix its approach to testing.
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) September 7, 2020
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Hundreds of thousands of people are being tested every day and new booking slots and home testing kits are being made available daily.
“There is a high demand for tests and to help stop the spread of the virus we are targeting testing capacity at the areas that need it most, including those where there is an outbreak, as well as prioritising at-risk groups.
“We have the capacity to test for coronavirus at an unprecedented scale. We are expanding capacity to 500,000 tests a day by the end of October, increasing the number of testing sites and bringing in new technology to process results faster.”
In a statement, the spokesperson added: “We have not run out of tests. For home testing when there’s high demand we pause the booking portal for short periods.”
Coronavirus: what happened today