Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:37 pm on 15th September 2020.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 12:37 pm, 15th September 2020

Well, the good news, in responding to that, is that capacity for testing is at a record high. The hon. Gentleman raised the issue of testing in the top 10 local authorities—well, I have got the figures here. Yesterday, we processed 9,278 tests just in pillar 2—so outside of the NHS testing capacity—in just those top 10 local authority areas. Just yesterday, we processed 1,428 tests in his own local authority area.

The good news is that capacity is at record levels and that a record number of people are able to get tests. I do not deny that it is an enormous challenge. When a service is free, it is inevitable that demand will rise. The challenge is to make sure that we prioritise the tests that we have as a nation for those who most need them, as I set out in my answer.

The hon. Gentleman asks about the backlog, which is actually falling and is less than one day’s processing capacity. He also asked about our being able to have testing capacity so that we can re-enable the economy and get things going. As he well knows, there is a huge effort to expand—using the next generation of technologies —the tests that we need to deliver to reopen parts of the economy, and we will deliver on that.

We will deliver on the challenges of today. I do not deny those challenges, but I face the facts in order to deliver on those challenges, rather than simply complaining. The hon. Gentleman should welcome the record capacity and the contact tracing, which are playing their part in responding to the virus.