Covid-19 Update

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:50 pm on 8th September 2020.

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Photo of Philippa Whitford Philippa Whitford Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Health and Social Care), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe) 1:50 pm, 8th September 2020

I agree that it is indeed critical that everyone recognises the importance of our own personal actions in controlling covid, but we also need an efficient test, trace and isolate system, the first step of which is for people to get access to a test. With UK cases having trebled over the past fortnight, demand has increased and there have been many reports of people being sent hundreds of miles to get a covid test. One of the most extreme examples was somebody in Plymouth being sent by the booking system to the test centre in Inverness.

I understand that demand varies depending on local incidence, but surely it is dangerous to have possibly infectious people travelling long distances when they are unwell and may need to use motor-services facilities on the way. Would it not make more sense to allow covid tests still to be taken locally, and just shift the samples around the UK to the labs with the greatest capacity?

While the commercial pillar 2 testing has increased dramatically since April, the laboratories are very centralised, whereas NHS hospital laboratories are far more numerous and based within easier reach of communities. To meet the high demand that is likely this coming winter, will the Secretary of State consider additional funding to the NHS to allow the expansion of its PCR facilities and to maximise pillar 1 testing capacity?