An increase in National Health Service (NHS) staff absences due testing shortages is now a matter of concern as health services are at risk.
There have been widespread complaints across England as people struggle to get tested for coronavirus. Some said that they were unable to book tests while others were offered tests hundreds of miles away.
The lack of coronavirus tests has forced a number of NHS workers to stay off work and self-isolate jeopardising the recovery of normal NHS services.
A week ago, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock acknowledged that there had been “challenges in access to tests” but he said that “the vast majority of people get their tests rapidly and close to home”.
During the weekend, hospitals in London, Bristol and Leeds raised concern over the increase in staff absences due to testing shortages, NHS Providers said.
NHS Providers chief executive, Chris Hopson said the lack of detailed operational information on shortages, such as how long they will last is making it difficult to tackle the issue.
“It’s clear that there are current capacity problems with the testing regime”, he said.
“It’s not just access for tests for staff members themselves, it’s also access for their family members as NHS workers have to self-isolate if their family members are unable to confirm if they have Covid-19 or not.
“The problem is that NHS trusts are working in the dark – they don’t know why these shortages are occurring, how long they are likely to last, how geographically widespread they are likely to be and what priority will be given to healthcare workers and their families in accessing scarce tests.”
In recent weeks, there had been widespread criticism over the government`s test, track and trace system which Prime Minister Boris Johnson had anticipated that it would be “world-beating”.
An increase in demand for coronavirus tests has prompted an increase in local shortages and a number of people have been directed to test sites far away from their homes.