Responding to reports of patients being sent long distances for Covid tests, Dr Peter English, BMA public health medicine committee chair, said:
“It’s ludicrous that people are being directed so far from their homes for testing. In some cases, it means driving for three hours – and back – which is completely inappropriate at the best of times, let alone for someone who may be ill with Covid-19 symptoms. Travelling such distances are expensive, and that’s if individuals have access to a car at all.
“This is an issue doctors are incredibly concerned about – with understandably worried patients contacting them for advice about what they can do when told to travel so far. Furthermore, effective testing relies on widespread take-up among the public, and being directed so far from home will be a huge disincentive to people who need to get tested.
“We understand there is limited testing capacity, but the logic of moving so much of it away from areas with low infection rates is flawed – as it means the programme is less likely to identify new spikes early, allowing swift action to be taken.
“While the Government pins its hopes of a ‘return to normal’ on mass testing – with vast sums of money already handed out to private companies at a huge cost to the taxpayer – we can see the present system is not working. Without getting the basics right, and ensuring people can easily and safely access tests, this goal looks a long way off.”
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.