Covid testing companies create own ‘regulator’ after warnings over misleading adverts

·2-min read

Six Covid-19 testing firms have launched an organisation to regulate providers and ensure they offer a "trustworthy" service.

The Laboratory Testing Industry Organisation (LTIO) aims to create a gold kitemark accreditation process to raise standards across the industry.

It follows a warning from the competition watchdog that PCR test providers risk enforcement action over misleading price advertising and failures to deliver results on time.

The founders of the LTIO said they would only approve members who accept a code of conduct based on an open letter sent to testing providers by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Members will also have score 3.5 or above on the independent Trustpilot rating website.

The founding members of the LTIO are BioGrad (currently rated 3.4 on Trustpilot), Cignpost Diagnostics/ExpressTest (4.5), Halo Verify (4.3), Medical Diagnosis (3.6), Project Screen by Prenetics (4.0) and Qured (3.9).

Francis Ingham, independent director of the LTIO, said: "The laboratory and testing industry has an important part to play in helping Britain navigate successfully through the pandemic.

"This new professional body is designed to set, enforce, and raise the standards of service for our customers.

"By establishing a gold standard kitemark and an independently-enforced Code of Conduct, we believe we can raise the standards across the industry.

"The public has a right to expect testing companies to provide accurate, timely and competitively priced services and that is what the LTIO aims to achieve."

The founders have vowed to create the gold standard accreditation process within three months and work with the government to ensure the UK industry has the world's "highest ethical and professional standards".

Consumer rights organisation Which? said the new body will "ultimately be judged on whether this delivers meaningful improvements for travellers".

"Some of the companies involved in this new body have been subject to repeat complaints from consumers and their services rated as little better than average, which is hardly a gold standard," said travel editor Rory Boland.

"The government must implement the CMA's full range of recommendations for fixing the testing market, so that consumers can travel with confidence."

Last month the government removed 57 companies from its “find a travel test provider” website page and sent a two-strike warning to 82 further companies.

Additional reporting by agencies

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