Commenting on today’s announcement on changes to testing, BMA NI Council chair Dr Tom Black commented, “BMA Northern Ireland is urging caution in removing access to testing over the next few months and is asking that the situation is kept under review and if case levels rise or do not fall significantly from the current high level, then PCR testing and free access to lateral flow tests should remain in place. We are very concerned that there will be a two tier system where those who can afford to pay for tests will do so and those who can’t will not.
“Everyone wants to do the right thing and try to not spread infection but if they cannot access a test then that will be very difficult. Many people have used an LFT when not symptomatic and discovered they did in fact have Covid-19, but if there is no access to free tests then they could, unknowingly, put others at risk. We need to make sure that we continue to protect clinically vulnerable patients, those in nursing homes and staff and patients in healthcare settings.
“The health service is struggling in primary and secondary care to maintain services due to the number of staff off ill with covid. We hope we’re on the road to normality but we will have to pivot quickly if events dictate. No one wants a return to restrictions so we need to continue to follow advice on face coverings, social distancing and hand washing.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.