‘Ineptness costing lives’: UK govt accused of breaking Covid-19 testing promises, as 85% of NHS staff in ‘isolation’ fit to work
NHS Providers CEO Chris Hopson revealed on BBC Newsnight on Tuesday that the results of their initial small-scale testing showed that “only 15 percent” of healthcare staff self-isolating at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic had tested positive for the deadly virus.
Hopson warned that the UK healthcare system was being unnecessarily undermined by “some of the highest staff absences” ever seen.
It comes amid mounting criticism of the UK government's action on coronavirus testing for frontline workers and the wider community.
A Downing Street spokesman revealed on Wednesday that around 2,000 NHS frontline workers had been tested for COVID-19 in England out of a total 1.3 million fulltime equivalent staff for NHS England.
Just 8,240 people were tested on Monday – after the government falsely claimed the promised 10,000 figure was achieved last weekend – of which only 900 were NHS staff.
During a Covid-19 daily briefing on Tuesday, Cabinet Minister Michael Gove blamed the low numbers on a shortage of the vital chemical reagent. It’s a claim that has since been challenged by the chemicals industry, who suggest they just need government guidance on how much to scale up.
The Chemical Industry Association has just put out this statement putting a question mark over Michael Gove’s statement that a lack of chemical Reagant is behind the lack of tests.They say reagant still being delivered to the NHS and the industry can scale up pic.twitter.com/vzoHNRbBTL— Sam Coates Sky (@SamCoatesSky) March 31, 2020
The government has set a target of carrying out 25,000 tests a day by the end of April. However, many critics say they have already broken promises on Covid-19 testing. Labour's Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth has been scathing of PM Boris Johnson’s administration – insisting that they had failed on the figure they promised three weeks ago, of 10,000 a day.
“There’s big questions for the government as to why we appear to be behind the curve.”Shadow Health Secretary @JonAshworth says the government is not keeping its promises on the amount of coronavirus testing being done in the UK. JM pic.twitter.com/upPF0eY41c— Kay Burley (@KayBurley) April 1, 2020
Many people on Twitter have roasted the government’s response, urging them to protect healthcare workers who are putting their own and the public’s lives at risk with the lack of testing. One person asked: “How much longer will they get away with lies and false promises?”
Another claimed that UK officials had been promising to ramp up testing since February, but said not much has changed, adding that their “ineptness” was “costing lives.”
Professor Andrew Goddard – the president of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) – claimed on Monday that around 25 percent of doctors are off work sick or in self-isolation due to the dangerous disease sweeping the world. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) says one in five nurses have been forced off work due to the illness.
The latest official UK figures show that 25,150 have tested positive for the coronavirus infection, with 1,789 deaths – including the 381 which comprise the country’s highest recorded daily figure to date – as of 5pm BST on Tuesday.
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