UK needs four times as many tests as it currently has, says NHS chief

Chris Hopson says NHS Test and Trace is now a vital public service

Daisy Lester
Monday 28 September 2020 09:02 BST
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The test and trace system has been criticised for individuals being unable to get a test or travelling miles in order to get one
The test and trace system has been criticised for individuals being unable to get a test or travelling miles in order to get one (Reuters)

NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson has said that the country will likely require “four times as many tests as we’ve currently got”.

Talking on BBC Breakfast this morning, Mr Hopson said that NHS Test and Trace “has now become as important in a sense as catching criminals, fighting fires and treating heart attacks”.

He added: “It’s a key public service and when it doesn’t work, then we all suffer.”

He said that as the country goes forward into winter, there is increasing need for testing facilities to be built much closer to where people live and work, in order to reduce the turnaround for results.

The NHS test-and-trace app has been available for those in England and Wales to download since last Thursday, with more than a million downloads so far.

However, many problems have been logged with the Covid-19 app, including an issue that prevented users registering a positive diagnosis.

The UK’s testing programme has significantly struggled over the last few months, and leaked data from the Department of Health and Social Care revealed a backlog of 185,000 tests.

Meanwhile, the director of NHS Test and Trace has previously apologised for problems in booking the service that left people unable to get tested or travelling miles from their homes for a test.

Back in August, NHS Test and Trace cut 6,000 staff members and plans were put in place for the remaining tracers to work alongside local public health teams.

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