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Due to the UK testing fiasco, doctors and nurses cannot be screened


The UK Covid-19 test fiasco has left doctors and nurses unable to work because they cannot be screened for the disease, preventing the NHS from returning to normal.

NHS staff must leave the front line to self-isolate as they or family members cannot book a test. NHS providers say that if the shortage isn't addressed soon, it will devastate hospitals as virus cases continue to escalate.

In yet another humiliating blow to the testing system, school principals have warned schools that have been closed for months because of the pandemic will "stall" if teachers cannot be tested quickly.

One in Preston said this morning that there are already two employees at home who are self-isolating and cannot be tested, and 10 children.

Health officials have attributed the crisis – which experts fear will last for weeks – to a lack of staff in laboratories. Desperate bosses have now admitted they may need to hire students to fill gaps in the Rota amid sky-high demand.

According to government sources, the root cause of the crisis is a "closely guarded Whitehall secret".

A backlog in the system means ministers are now considering restricting coronavirus testing and rejecting "frivolous" requests from people who don't need to be wiped off.

Patients were told to travel hundreds of kilometers, even to different countries, for tests, as none are available nearby and swabs also had to be flown to Germany and Italy for analysis.

The flaw was uncovered yesterday by an investigation by LBC radio station which found that test bookings were not available at any of the country's ten coronavirus hotspots, including Bolton, Salford, Bradford and Manchester.

But Priti Patel today denied that tests were not available in the hardest hit areas of the country. The Home Secretary told BBC Breakfast today that she saw with her own eyes swabs are available in cities affected by local lockdown rules.

Oxford University's Sir John Bell, who advised Number 10 on testing, says the test fiasco was likely caused by a "second wave" of Covid-19 that sparked a surge in testing demand.

Professor Alan McNally, who helped set up the Milton Keynes Lighthouse Lab, said a "perfect storm" of events crashed the test system. He described the situation as "worrying" because it occurred before winter and admitted that there were "clearly underlying issues that no one wants to tell us about".

An investigation by the LBC radio station yesterday found that test bookings were not available at any of the country's ten coronavirus hotspots, including Bolton, Salford, Bradford and Manchester

An investigation by the LBC radio station yesterday found that test bookings were not available at any of the country's ten coronavirus hotspots, including Bolton, Salford, Bradford and Manchester

In other coronavirus news:

  • The Royal College of Psychiatrists has warned the UK of an alcohol crisis as the number of high-risk drinkers doubled during the lockdown.
  • The UK unemployment rate rose to 4.1 percent in the second quarter of this year from May to July, with 1.4 million people unemployed and 2.4 million benefits.
  • The new ban on gathering more than six people was ignored on the first day, as young people were pictured in parks and beaches yesterday.
  • Coronavirus cases are rising in all but 17 regions of England after more than half saw rates drop two weeks ago, data from PHE revealed;
  • The line-up for the next series of the Great British Bake Off has been announced and during filming, attendees had to be quarantined for nine days before starting, while everything on set was cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis.

The lack of testing occurred days after Downing Street committed to Operation Moonshot, an ambitious plan to run 10 million tests a day to track the virus in real time.

Matt Hancock has repeatedly spoken of increasing testing capacity, boasting that the UK is now doing more swab testing than many of its neighbors.

But the system seems to crack under the pressure of doing the roughly 200,000 swabs a day – even before & # 39; Moonshot & # 39; started at all.

Today, NHS Providers – an organization that represents hospital staff – is warning that the backlog is affecting the healthcare system's ability to get back to normal.

Managing Director Chris Hopson said, “It is clear that there are capacity issues with the test regime.

& # 39; Trust leaders from Bristol, Leeds and London have all raised concerns about the lack of availability of testing, which has resulted in major staff absenteeism.

“NHS trusts work in the dark – they don't know why these bottlenecks are occurring, how long they are likely to last, how widespread geographical they are likely to be, and what priority will be given to healthcare workers and their families in accessing rare tests. & # 39;

Nurses, doctors, and other key hospital workers are told to take time off and self-isolate as they may have coronavirus but cannot be tested.

This, according to experts, is wasting time for NHS workers at a time when it is crucial that hospitals no longer have problems.

There are already tens of thousands of patients who are overdue medical procedures and appointments that have had to be postponed or canceled due to the lockdown, and hospitals are working hard to overcome a massive backlog in patients before the onset of winter.

Chris Hopson added that the NHS "just can't spare employees who are waiting for tests and just can't come to work."

Sir John Bell, himself a medical professor and qualified doctor, said the government was not adequately prepared for a further increase in suspected cases and tests.

He said on BBC Radio 4 this morning, “A month ago they had spare capacity on testing – significant spare capacity – but I think what was underestimated was the speed at which the second wave would arrive.

“But also the pressure that is put on the system by children returning to school and the associated testing requirements and the people who are increasingly on the move.

"I think they are definitely behind the curve when it comes to getting the necessary tests for what we need today."

Nursing home bosses have criticized ministers for failing to deliver on their promise to prioritize testing in the vulnerable sector before winter, amid fears that a second wave of Covid-19 could devastate them.

NO TESTS AVAILABLE & # 39; IN 10 OF ENGLAND & # 39; S COVID-19 HOTSPOTS & # 39;

No walk-in, drive-in or post-coronavirus testing is available for people with symptoms of the disease in England's 10 outbreak hotspots, it was claimed yesterday.

Swabs are not available in Bolton, which is battling the largest outbreak of the virus in the country with an infection rate of 122 cases per 100,000 people.

The government website that books test spots also shows that there are no tests available in Salford, Bradford, Blackburn, Oldham, Preston, Pendle, Rochdale, Tameside and Manchester, according to LBC Radio.

When postcodes in each area are entered into the test system, it supposedly displays the message: 'This service is very busy right now. More tests should be available later. & # 39;

The chairman of the council in Bolton, which has the highest infection rate in the UK, said the online booking system had "serious flaws" and that it was beyond the control of the council because it is run by the government. He said the problem was "unacceptable".

Health Department officials have already desperately appealed to UK biomedical sector workers, admitting that 400 technicians are needed immediately to resolve the testing fiasco.

The appeal by Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak – an assistant medical officer at the University of Glasgow – found that bosses were hiring "graduates" with degrees in biology to analyze coronavirus test samples in laboratories.

But it also announced that health chiefs are open to hiring current students with "some lab experience" to fill holes in rotas part-time, reports The Telegraph.

Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday put pressure on the government, claiming the backlog has affected Scottish patients as well.

Test results will be processed in one of seven Lighthouse Labs across the country in areas such as Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, Loughborough in Leicestershire, Cambridge and Glasgow.

Miss Sturgeon is concerned that the backlog in England is affecting the Glasgow laboratory leading to delays in Scotland.

She said yesterday: "We have raised these concerns to the UK government."

A senior government source last night dismissed their claims as "false", adding: "It is disappointing that the Prime Minister has decided to take policy on the pandemic.

& # 39; We have been working with the Scottish Government all weekend to make sure they are getting the support for testing they need. The First Minister should get her own house in order before blaming others. & # 39;

It was announced yesterday that swabs are not available in Bolton, which is fighting the largest outbreak of the virus in the country with an infection rate of 122 cases per 100,000 people.

The government website that books test spots also shows that there are no tests available in Salford, Bradford, Blackburn, Oldham, Preston, Pendle, Rochdale, Tameside and Manchester, according to LBC Radio.

Coronavirus tests are not currently available at the ten centers of the UK coronavirus outbreak, according to LBC. Pictured above is a testing center in Bolton, Northern England

Coronavirus tests are not currently available at the ten centers of the UK coronavirus outbreak, according to LBC. Pictured above is a testing center in Bolton, Northern England

Those trying to run tests on the ten UK hotspots will be greeted with this message

Those trying to run tests on the ten UK hotspots will be greeted with this message

Almost 500,000 patients have waited at least six weeks for key tests

Almost half a million patients have waited six weeks or more for critical diagnostic tests to detect cancer, heart attacks, and other serious diseases.

The numbers have increased tenfold in just one year as hospitals struggle with a backlog after Covid.

Charities fear the long waits will have a devastating impact on NHS patients, especially those with cancer, which may become untreatable.

Separate data shows that the number of patients undergoing cancer treatment is down by a quarter compared to the same period last year. The total fell by 6,647 to 21,599.

Yesterday, the mail revealed that hospital admissions had dropped on seven serious illnesses.

There is a growing backlog of patients who were unable to receive treatment at the height of the pandemic and are now at risk for serious complications.

This number continues to rise as hospitals can only treat a limited number of patients due to social distancing and infection control measures.

The latest NHS data shows that 489,647 patients waited more than six weeks for one of 15 major diagnostic tests in July, the most recent month for which numbers are available.

A shocking 291,982 of them had waited at least 13 weeks.

By comparison, in July 2019, only 40,099 had waited six weeks or more and 5,675 had waited at least 13 weeks.

Michelle Mitchell of Cancer Research UK said, “Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic is having a devastating impact on cancer care and the lives of cancer patients. Much work remains to be done to ensure that the screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer are not even more affected by future waves of Covid-19. & # 39;

Alex Norris, a Labor health spokesman, said, “Patients waiting for these tests cannot afford the government to be as slow as other areas. Some of these tests are used to diagnose cancer, and for these patients we know that early diagnosis leads to better treatment and better survival. & # 39;

An NHS spokesman said: "Hospitals have been working around the clock throughout the pandemic so patients can continue to receive critical tests and treatments while they are safe between March and July."

The backlog also affects routine surgeries like hip and knee surgeries. Last week's NHS numbers showed that 2.1 million patients had waited at least 18 weeks.

When postcodes in each area are entered into the test system, it supposedly displays the message: 'This service is very busy right now. More tests should be available later. & # 39;

The chairman of the council in Bolton, which has the highest infection rate in the UK, said the online booking system had "serious flaws" and that it was beyond the control of the council because it is run by the government. He said the problem was "unacceptable".

Ms. Patel said it was "wrong to say" that no tests were available after being asked about the long delays in booking a test in Bolton, where the infection rate is highest in England.

Speaking over the BBC breakfast this morning, she said, "Tests are available. You heard me say, especially in local restricted areas. I saw this myself. I saw the teams that were working on it."

& # 39; Mobile tests are carried out, capacities are made available in local areas where locks have been and are taking place

“I think it's wrong to say that there are no tests available, that new book-in slots are available every day, and that mobile test units are available.

"In addition, test kits are being issued nationwide for private households, particularly in local restricted areas."

However, the Home Secretary added: “It is clear that there is much more work to be done with Public Health England and the actual public health authorities in these particular local areas.

"As a government we are and we are working with Public Health England to drive demand in local hotspot areas."

Upon accessing tests, she said most tests are available within a 10 mile radius.

"It seems to me that there will be extreme cases where people will not be able to test sites in that area, but that doesn't mean Public Health England isn't working day and night to increase capacity," added her.

School principals have also warned that schools will also be affected by staff who cannot be tested quickly.

A chief executive in Southampton told The Guardian that three self-isolating workers could not get swabs, adding, "We will grind to a halt if the availability of tests doesn't improve quickly."

Another elementary school principal in Sussex said lack of testing will derail the reopening and ensure instability of both staff and students.

Labor MP Stella Creasy yesterday described the situation as an "absolute farce".

She told BBC Radio 4's World At One, "I had a lot of parents who contacted me this morning because they have kids with listed symptoms … who need a test that can't be booked online that "I've been trying to book one all weekend.

“Our walk-in center, which was on our doorstep yesterday, started turning people away if they didn't have an appointment. That would make sense if it was full, but I've been down there myself and nothing happens there.

"They don't know how many tests to do, they don't know how many scientists they need, and they don't know what the demand is."

Priti Patel denied that tests were not available in the hardest hit areas of the country.

Oxford University's Sir John Bell, who has advised ministers, believes the fiasco was caused by a "second wave" of Covid-19, which has led to an increase in the demand for testing

Priti Patel (left) denied that tests were not available in the hardest hit areas of the country. The Home Secretary told BBC Breakfast today that she saw with her own eyes swabs are available in cities affected by local lockdown rules. Oxford University's Sir John Bell (right), who oversees Number 10's antibody testing program and advised ministers, believes the fiasco was caused by a "second wave" of Covid-19 that led to increased demand for testing has led

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon put pressure on the government, claiming the backlog has affected Scottish patients as well

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon put pressure on the government, claiming the backlog has affected Scottish patients as well

PRITI PATEL denies the lack of testing in badly hit areas

Home Secretary Priti Patel said it was "wrong to say" no tests were available after being asked about the long delays in trying to book a test in Bolton, where the infection rate is highest in England.

At the BBC breakfast, she said, "Tests are available. You heard me say, especially in local restricted areas. I saw this myself. I saw the teams that were working on it."

& # 39; Mobile tests are carried out, capacities are provided in local areas where locks have been made and are taking place.

“I think it's wrong to say that there are no tests available, that new book-in slots are available every day, and that mobile test units are available.

"In addition, test kits are being issued nationwide for private households, particularly in local restricted areas."

The government has "stepped up" in local restricted areas and tests are available within 10 miles, she added.

Ms. Patel said: “It is clear that there is much more work to be done with Public Health England and the actual Public Health Authorities in these particular local areas.

"As a government we are and we are working with Public Health England to drive demand in local hotspot areas."

Upon accessing tests, she said most tests are available within a 10 mile radius.

"It seems to me that there will be extreme cases where people will not be able to test sites in that area, but that doesn't mean that Public Health England isn't working day and night to increase capacity," added her.

Last week Boris Johnson said he wanted to run millions of tests every day as part of a very ambitious strategy called Operation Moonshot.

Scientists warned, however, that the plans were “fundamentally flawed” and even dangerous, as the tests can falsely tell people that they are either positive or negative.

NHS Test & Trace's chief testing officer publicly apologized on Twitter last week, saying lab capacity was due to slow turnaround times and people's inability to order swabs.

It's not clear why labs have difficulty processing the tests, which are the same as they were during the pandemic.

A government source told The Times that the UK will have some "tough weeks" before another lighthouse laboratory opens in Leicestershire.

Lord Bethell of Romford, the test minister, accused the return of children to school of “putting tremendous pressure” on the test centers as teenagers are often accompanied by their parents and other household members.

He told colleagues yesterday that number 10 is throwing "all we can" on the system to make it work.

On September 10, 227,465 tests were processed while the Department of Health claimed it had the capacity to handle 364,917 in a day.

Labor's shadow health minister's Jonathan Ashworth claimed it was "beggarly belief" that ministers had not used the summer to increase testing capacity before schools reopened.

LBC's Westminster correspondent Ben Kentish said they were not offered any when they tried to have tests in any of the ten areas.

"The government testing website simply says the service is very busy and people should be back in a couple of hours," he said.

& # 39; We tried to get a test in the top ten areas. In all ten areas, they were unable to test in any of the ten areas. & # 39;

Coronavirus test appointments are uploaded to the government testing portal throughout the day. So if you want to book a test, be sure to check back regularly.

Once each test is booked, the website will show that none are currently available in the region.

All ten areas where tests were not available yesterday are listed by Public Health England as the areas of England with the largest coronavirus outbreaks.

In their latest report, Bolton topped the list, followed by Bradford with 72 cases per 100,000, Oldham with 66 cases per 100,000, and Salford with 62 cases per 100,000.

SECOND WAVE FOR INCORRECT TESTS, TOP EXPERT CLAIMS

An Oxford University expert who oversaw the government's antibody testing program and advised ministers blamed a second wave of the testing fiasco.

Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford, told BBC Radio 4's Today program that an increase in Covid-19 cases has led to an increase in the demand for tests.

He said, “I think what's going wrong is the second wave.

“A month ago they had spare capacity on testing – significant spare capacity – but I think what was underestimated was the speed at which the second wave would arrive, but also the pressure that kids returning to school were putting on the system exercise, and the testing requirements associated with it, and people are increasingly on the move.

"I think they are definitely behind the curve when it comes to getting the necessary tests for what we need today."

Sir John said testing capacity would be "significantly increased" over the next two weeks.

"But that gets worse because of course we haven't reached winter yet – we haven't all started sniffing, getting a fever, catching colds, and that will add further confusion to the problem," he said.

& # 39; Demand will increase. The real question is can they get supply in a position where it can outperform demand and that is the challenge right now. & # 39;

The lack of testing came to the fore last week when people announced they had either been sent dozens of kilometers from home to get a test while others couldn't get one at all.

Online booking systems were unable to process requests for tests, which meant people who believed they had the coronavirus had to do without it.

In response, NHS Test & Trace test director Sarah-Jane Marsh apologized heartily last week.

Ms. Marsh said there was capacity at the test sites, but the laboratories where the tests were being conducted were at a "critical point". She added that the system is "doing everything it can to expand rapidly".

It has been reported that people have been told that there are no appointments available at testing centers in England and that no home test kits are available to ship.

Ms. Marsh wrote on Twitter: “Can I please apologize to everyone who is currently unable to receive a Covid test?

& # 39; All of our test sites are busy so they don't look crowded. It is our laboratory processing that is the critical point. We do everything to expand quickly.

& # 39; We have additional NHS, Lighthouse, University and partner laboratories all of which are due to open soon, and we are also expanding the use of non-laboratory based tests. The test team works on these 18 hours a day, seven days a week. We realize that the country depends on us. & # 39;

Embarrassingly, the problems emerge when Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed up to Operation Moonshot last week and is slated to have mass tests running in the UK by next year.

He said that a pilot program will be launched in Salford next month that will test indoor and outdoor audiences that day to see if it's contagious.

Those who test positive for coronavirus will be sent home, while those who test negative will be admitted.

The Prime Minister said that if the pilot is successful, the measures could be rolled out nationwide and that He wanted everyone in the UK to have access to daily coronavirus tests at some point, with pregnancy checks getting results in just 15 minutes.

Mr Johnson told a Downing Street coronavirus news conference that negative testing would effectively give people a "passport" that would give them the "freedom to mingle with everyone else who, in ways that are currently not impossible, either." are contagious ".

The Prime Minister said he hoped the mass testing approach would be "widespread" by spring.

Mr Johnson said at a news conference last week that so far, tests have mainly been used to identify people with the disease so that they can be isolated from the rest of society.

The prime minister said this will continue to be a priority with the aim of increasing testing capacity to 500,000 a day by the end of October.

But he said that "in the near future we want to start using tests to identify negative people … so we can allow them to act more normally".

He said that new types of coronavirus tests that are "simple, fast, and scalable are becoming available," that can deliver results in 90 or even 20 minutes, and allow millions of dollars to be tested per day.

Mr Johnson said, "This level of testing would allow people to lead more normal lives without the need for social distancing."

Ms. Marsh said there is capacity at the test sites, but the laboratories where the tests are being conducted are at a "critical point".

Ms. Marsh said there is capacity at the test sites, but the laboratories where the tests are being conducted are at a "critical point".

Bolton has been subjected to tightened lockdown restrictions in some cases after a surge, and was the first place in England last week to force pubs back into take-out service.

Other imposed measures include limiting hours of operation, with venues being closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., and a law stating that people outside of their household cannot socialize.

Another 96 cases of people with coronavirus were confirmed in Bolton yesterday, bringing the cumulative total to 3,239.

A Bolton Council spokesman said he was aware that the government is planning to open three new walk-in and drivable test centers near them so that more appointments are available.

Council Chairman David Greenhalgh said today: “We fully understand how frustrating it is for people who have difficulty booking a test.

& # 39; This is an unacceptable situation and I and officers have taken the problem to the highest levels.

& # 39; In our experience there are major flaws with the online booking system but this is a nationally operated website, not locally operated and beyond our control.

“We as the local authority did everything that was asked of us. Our teams have worked hard to increase testing capacity in Bolton – two new testing centers have opened in the community and a third is due to open this week. and yet we know that these two new locations are currently working under capacity and our own residents do not have access to a local test.

“This is unacceptable and needs to be clarified and the problems resolved. I urge the government to treat this as a top priority.

“We would ask people to book an appointment in a few hours. Also, please only book a test if you have coronavirus symptoms or have been asked to be tested. & # 39;

Matt Hancock last week accused people of trying a coronavirus test when they didn't have symptoms of the virus, claiming the demand for these cases had increased 25 percent.

The instructions make it clear that the tests are only for those who have symptoms or have been asked to test by the authorities.

Mr. Hancock only asked those with symptoms to get a test in response to a residue caused by "laboratory problems".

A sign in Bolton orders those suffering from coronavirus symptoms to get a test despite a lack of testing capacity

A sign in Bolton orders those suffering from coronavirus symptoms to get a test despite a lack of testing capacity

Ms Sturgeon has accused the UK government of trying to limit the number of tests available in Scotland while speaking at the Scottish Government's coronavirus briefing.

"We were concerned over the weekend that the UK government was trying, among other things, to deal with the backlog by restricting access to tests and the Minister of Health managed to avoid this in Scotland," she said.

She also expressed "serious concern" about the test jam and urged Mr. Hancock to share the "full extent and nature of the problems they are facing" so that her government could help resolve the problem.

She continued: “Over the weekend there was a proposal to reduce the available slots in mobile testing units and regional testing centers in Scotland and the Minister of Health was able to avoid this so we could keep full capacity for Scotland.

& # 39; We currently have no evidence of any significant problem in Scotland with people accessing test slots.

"The problem that we seem to be having some impact on – and it is again a problem across the UK – is a backlog of tests which results in longer turnaround time."

Scottish Health Minister Jeane Freeman said she had "constructive discussions" with Mr Hancock and her Welsh counterpart Vaughan Gething about the backlog she believes is caused by increasing demand and a "problem with the speed and capacity of testing" has been.

She added, “I was delighted that we did not manage to have the restrictions on access to test slots that were originally proposed, but this is work that we must continue because we must try the best we can to work cooperatively and resolve this situation. & # 39;

Government data shows that test capacity growth has largely stalled since mid-July, when around 350,000 tests were performed daily.

On September 10, the last day for which data is available, 374,000 tests were processed by laboratories across the country.

It is because the UK is seeing a sudden spike in coronavirus cases, with cases reported daily staying above 2,000 for more than a week.

Another 2,621 cases of coronavirus were registered in the UK today amid mounting fears of a second wave.

According to government statistics, an average of 2,998 infections are recorded daily. For comparison, more than 3,300 cases were confirmed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Top experts insist the UK doesn't need to panic about the rising numbers just yet, as this is just a fraction of the 100,000+ that has encountered each day during the darkest period of the crisis. However, other scientists say action is needed to prevent another wave from hitting the UK.

Another nine coronavirus deaths have also been recorded, bringing the official coronavirus death toll to 41,637.

The UK Ministry of Health has been asked to comment.

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