People Are Having To Claim They Live 500 Miles Away To Get A Local Coronavirus Test, According To One MP
Munira Wilson claims two of her constituents got local tests by claiming they lived in Aberdeen (PA)
Matt Hancock has warned the public not to “game the system” after one MP revealed her some of her constituents only got a local test by claiming they lived 500 miles away.
Munira Wilson, Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham, told the health secretary on Tuesday that a glitch in the testing system meant some local slots were only shown as available if the person put in a different postcode.
"[Some] 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," she said.
But Mr Hancock urged people “to take this seriously and not game the system”, adding that MPs should take a “responsible approach” when advising their constituents on tests.
Ministers have faced criticism following widespread reports that many with coronavirus symptoms have been unable to get a test, or have been offered a test at a centre many hours from where they live.
The health secretary insisted in the Commons that the situation would be resolved in a “matter of weeks” and that shortages were due to a "sharp rise" in those seeking a test, "including those who are not eligible".
He added that tests were being prioritised for at-risk individuals, such as those in care homes.
"I do not shirk from decisions about prioritisation. The top priority is and always has been acute clinical care. The next priority is social care, where we're now sending over 100,000 tests a day because we've all seen the risks this virus poses in care homes,” he told MPs.
But shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said Mr Hancock was “losing control of this virus”, adding that “extra demand on the system was inevitable” and should have been foreseen.
This morning, NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said shortages were having a “significant impact and a growing impact on the NHS, and that is a problem”.
He was among health leaders warning that many NHS staff were unable to return to work as they were unable to get tested when they displayed coronavirus symptoms.
Mr Hopson added: "Nobody knows how widespread this problem is, nobody knows how long it's going to go on for, nobody knows, for example, given that there are scarcities of tests, about who's going to be prioritised for those tests that are available."
He told Sky News: “Chief execs in Leeds and Bristol, in London, all of whom are saying 'look we've got staff off that we simply can't afford to have off', because they can't get access to tests."
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