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Council calls for better access to local testing

2:33pm - 15 September 2020

North Somerset Council is lobbying Government in order to improve access to Covid-19 testing locally.

The Leader of the Council, Cllr Don Davies, has written to Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, calling for urgent action in order to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The move comes following reports from local residents of the difficulties they have experienced in accessing tests locally despite there being three testing facilities in the area.

Cllr Davies said: “It’s just not good enough. We are working hard locally with the community to identify and stop outbreaks before they can spread. But being able to access tests is key to this, and time after time people are struggling to get tested and are often being sent hundreds of miles away.

"We have three testing centres in North Somerset, so there is seemingly no shortage of testing capacity and yet people can't access the provision. 

"These individuals are trying to do the right thing by seeking a test but have limited means to do so. This needs to be resolved urgently."

This issue of local testing has also been raised by the council over the last three weeks through a number of regional and national forums.

The council is concerned that if access is not improved immediately there could be several concerning consequences including:

  • people may stop trying to get a test, and not isolate even if infectious
  • people may get tested too late for the swab test to pick up their infection and they may not isolate even though they can still spread the virus
  • as a population, we will miss the information we have worked so hard to build into a picture that we can monitor daily in order to spot outbreaks emerging
  • there could be a backlog of tests and delays to results which equally is a risk to public health.

Cllr Davies added: "Having received so much feedback from our residents, I felt compelled to write to the Secretary of State and ask for this situation to be resolved as a matter of great urgency. I look forward to his response."

Anyone with symptoms should self-isolate for 10 days, and their household members should isolate for 14 days. Close contacts of confirmed cases are asked to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms, to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.

Everyone is encouraged to continue to follow government advice on social distancing, self-isolation, wearing face coverings and practising good hand hygiene.