Government urged 'to get a grip' of COVID testing capacity for Portsmouth


Councillor Matthew Winnington, Portsmouth's Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing & Social Care and Councillor Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education, have written to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, regarding the problems of being able to get Covid-19 testing in the city.

Here in Portsmouth we are fortunate to have the regional drive-in testing centre and a walk-in testing centre that has been set up as a collaboration between the city council, the University of Portsmouth & the DHSC.

Even with this all this infrastructure in place and home testing kits being able to be used, there is a real shortage of available tests for the city's residents.

We have been told this is because our region is being rationed for testing so that areas of high outbreaks can be given priority.

Liberal Democrat Cabinet Members Councillor Matthew Winnington (Health, Wellbeing & Social Care) and Councillor Suzy Horton (Children, Families and Education) have urged Matt Hancock, the government Health Secretary, as an absolute priority to increase laboratory capacity to the level where everyone in Portsmouth is able to have a test if they require it and have results promptly.

Councillor Matthew Winnington said, "Our Education, Social Care, NHS and Business sectors deserve to be able to deliver their high quality services without being hamstrung by ministerial incompetence."

Matt Hancock letter COVID testing Portsmouth

Matt Hancock letter COVID testing Portsmouth p2


The Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP Secretary of State for Health & Social Care
39 Victoria Street

London SW1H 0EU

Dear Mr Hancock,

Ref: MWOUT009PC Date: 15 September 2020

We are writing to you regarding the serious concerns we have about testing capacity. Here in Portsmouth we are fortunate to have the regional drive-in testing centre and a walk-in testing centre that has been set up as a collaboration between the city council, the University of Portsmouth & the DHSC. Even with this all this infrastructure in place and home testing kits being able to be used, there is a real shortage of available tests for the residents of our city. We have been told this is because our region is being rationed for testing so that areas of high outbreaks can be given priority.

For example, just today we have heard of a family of 5 who can only access one test so they are unable to attend school or work. Additionally, teachers who need to be prioritised and be back in the classroom, are being directed to Nottingham.

This is simply not good enough. It has been clear within the Public Health, Social Care and Education sectors for months that as we move into autumn, testing would become more and more necessary and more would need to be done. This is also known in local NHS Trusts and CCGs, yet your department has clearly not listened to these experts in Local Government, the NHS and elsewhere and laboratory capacity is woefully lacking. Why was there no forward planning for this clearly understood situation? If there had been, then the detrimental impact on children's education, workplaces and people's wellbeing brought about by them not being able to get tested would have been avoided.

Locally, the last few months has seen Portsmouth's Director of Public Health working closely with the council and schools on infection control; navigating guidance; dealing with mixed messaging and U turns in order to be prepared to welcome children back to school. We have successfully engaged with families to allay fears about returning to school with great success but now many of those people cannot attend if they are to uphold their civil responsibility by adhering to the government’s advice to get tested.

We call on you as an absolute priority to increase laboratory capacity to the level where everyone in Portsmouth is able to have a test if they require it and have results promptly. Our Education, Social Care, NHS and Business sectors deserve to be able to deliver their high quality services without being hamstrung by ministerial incompetence.

Yours sincerely

COUNCILLOR MATTHEW WINNINGTON Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
COUNCILLOR SUZY HORTON Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education

 

 


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