Twickenham MP says residents could only get local Covid-19 test if they searched with Aberdeen postcode

Lib Dem asks if constituents should ‘game the system’ to get tests they need

Conrad Duncan
Tuesday 15 September 2020 15:15 BST
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MP says constituents in Twickenham found they could get access to Covid-19 tests by using Aberdeen postcode

People in Twickenham have found they can access coronavirus tests in their local area despite being told none were available by pretending their postcode is in Aberdeen, an MP has said.

Munira Wilson, the Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham, told the Commons she had been “inundated” with emails from doctors, teachers and parents who had been unable to access the tests they “desperately” needed.

“However, a number of them have also been advised that if they put an Aberdeen postcode into the system, they can get a test in Twickenham and they have succeeded,” Ms Wilson said.

“So could the secretary of state please tell me how on earth a world-beating test and trace system is functioning in this way, and what is he doing to fix it?”

“And in the meantime, does he recommend that I tell those constituents who desperately need a test to game the system in this way?”

Her comments came amid local testing shortages in the UK, with some people with Covid-19 symptoms being told to get a test at sites hundreds of miles from their homes.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, faced questions from MPs on Tuesday over the government’s testing system, which has been described as a “bloody mess”.

In response to Ms Wilson’s question, Mr Hancock said MPs should tell their constituents that tests are “available in large numbers” and added: “People should take this seriously and not game the system.”

However, the health secretary admitted there were “operational challenges” with the testing system which he said the government was working to fix.

He also insisted the average distance travelled to a test site was now 5.8 miles.

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, questioned Mr Hancock on why problems with the system had not been fixed over the summer.

“People want to know when they will get a test and when this mess will be fixed,” Mr Ashworth said, warning that the country was at a “perilous moment” in the pandemic.

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