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Hundreds share experiences of government's Covid-19 testing service

Hundreds of residents have responded to a Cornwall Council appeal to share their experiences of the government’s Covid-19 testing service. 

The appeal went out after concerns were raised that people suffering from symptoms associated with Covid-19 were struggling to book a test or were being offered test slots at locations outside Cornwall – in some cases hundreds of miles away. 

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The information will be anonymised and passed on to Cornwall’s MPs to use as evidence when making the case to government that urgent changes need to be made to the current system. 

Councillor Sally Hawken, Portfolio Holder for Children, Wellbeing and Public Health, said: “I’m grateful to the many hundreds of residents who told us about their experiences with the government’s Covid-19 testing system. It’s clear from the sheer volume of responses that the system isn’t working, and I’m deeply concerned that people in Cornwall are suffering as a result. 

“This isn’t about asymptomatic people putting strain on the system. The responses we’ve had are from people who have Covid-19 symptoms and are trying to do the right thing by following government guidance. We must do all we can to support them and keep our residents safe. 

“Some of the stories we’ve heard are truly disturbing. From the carer self-isolating and unable to work because of a delay in receiving her test results, to the parents of a poorly child who were forced to travel almost a hundred miles for a test – only for the appointment to be cancelled when they were halfway there. 

“These examples are as shocking as they are heart-breaking – but sadly they’re not unique. If we are to beat this virus, we need a testing system that is fit for purpose. I worry that at this present moment we don’t have one. 

“I’ll be passing on our findings to our local MPs and asking for their support in the hope they can press decision-makers in government to make desperately needed changes to the testing system.  

“We can’t wait weeks. These changes need to happen now.” 

Cornwall Council Director of Public Health, Rachel Wigglesworth, said: “These examples offer a disturbing snapshot of the current testing system and its flaws. They clearly show that changes need to be made if we’re to combat the spread of coronavirus in Cornwall. 

“It’s particularly important as we head towards the flu season, when the healthcare system will undoubtedly be placed under further pressure. 

“We stand ready to help the government in any way we can and we will do our utmost to keep Covid-19 case numbers in Cornwall low, but issues with the testing system will need to be resolved if we are to succeed in doing that. 

“In the meantime, we’ll continue working to put additional arrangements in place to help boost local testing availability until the national capacity increases and will let residents know as soon as those measures are in place.”

 

Published September 17, 2020