BMA says the Government must reconsider free tests for patients in light of rising Covid rates

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA.

Location: England
Last reviewed: 1 April 2022

Responding to the latest ONS data on levels of Covid infections, Dr David Wrigley, BMA deputy chair of council, said:

“The number of people with Covid is now shockingly high with the most infections we’ve ever seen, and hospitalisations and deaths are also on the rise. Right now we’re in a situation where Covid is rife across the UK and yet testing - a simple tool to help people know if they have the infection - is no longer being made free for our patients. This means that as infection rates soar, people don't know if they are infected and have to self-isolate, and therefore are unable to protect family members and the wider community.

“The high infection rates also mean that people who are clinically extremely vulnerable are once again at higher risk of becoming infected as they go about their normal lives, possibly becoming unwell and even needing hospital care. As there is now no provision for free tests based on affordability, this risks creating a two-tier society between those who can afford to pay for tests and those who can’t - once again deepening the inequalities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Therefore, we’re calling on the Government to urgently reconsider their position on free testing.

“We’d urge people to remain cautious, particularly if they have Covid symptoms. People should isolate if they think they have Covid, avoid seeing relatives and friends who might be at risk of a more severe disease, and continue to adopt good ventilation at home. This Government talks about living with Covid-19 on the presumption that the pandemic is receding. This pandemic is far from receding as these latest figures show.”

Ends

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.