With COVID-19 cases on the rise across the UK, more and more constituents have written to me to complain that they cannot get a test. The week schools returned saw a particular influx of emails from people who were showing symptoms and either struggling to access testing or being sent to unfeasibly distant test centres.
Shockingly, and despite reassurances to the contrary from the government, local key workers are clearly no exception to these issues with teachers and doctors among those reporting they cannot access testing. When testing is stretched so thin that it’s stopping our public servants doing their vital work, it’s clear something is deeply and fundamentally wrong.
Observing the rollout of the Government’s outsourced test and trace system over the past few months has been like witnessing a slow car crash. After months of Ministers promising us a working NHS test and trace system, what we got was an outsourced mess cobbled together by corner-cutting private companies, some of them with suspiciously close Government ties. Predictably, this buckled precisely at the moment we most needed it – when schools returned. If the people in charge of test and trace couldn’t have foreseen this increase in demand, they’re clearly not qualified to be running it.
The crisis in testing is symptomatic of wider government failures to provide people with the policies they need to stay safe during the pandemic. As with public health, so with the economy. As we head into winter, people around the country are really struggling. The chancellor’s most recent statement failed to tackle the UK’s low sick pay, failed to offer extra support for the three million excluded from income support so far and failed to fix the broken Universal Credit system.
The lesson of the pandemic is that nobody’s safe until everyone is. We must continue to oppose the Government’s reckless attempt to parcel up NHS services to for-profit advisers. The ability of Tory donors to make money from public services should never come ahead of patient care or service quality.
You can book a Coronavirus test here: https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test