Luke Pollard, the MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, supports the efforts of those in Plymouth City Council to raise concerns about Plymouth COVID-19 testing with Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
Those trying to book tests have been told that there are none available in Plymouth, and that they should travel to Taunton in Somerset, Launceston in Cornwall, or even Cardiff. All these sites are at least an hour’s drive away, and much longer by public transport. This is potentially very dangerous: firstly many people who may have Covid-19 simply won’t get tested and may pass on the virus, and secondly if they need to travel by bus or train, this puts other passengers at risk. This problem also applies to Plymouth’s frontline health workers in the community who also cannot get tested locally.
Luke Pollard said:
“This is clearly a serious situation. The current Government is gambling the health of our city with this decision. This is especially alarming as we are seeing the Government urging young people to return to school and University, and adults to their offices. Without adequate testing capacity, internationally recognised as one of the most important ways of keeping the virus at bay, this risks a second wave, more unnecessary casualties and further strain on our health service and economy.
“Despite some media reports, testing capacity is not adequate, especially for those in Plymouth. Around three quarters of both regional and mobile test sites are running at 100% capacity, and although local test sites seem to have better availability, the vast majority of these are in the Midlands and the North.
“This demonstrates exactly what I have been fighting against during my time as a Plymouth MP – the South West and Plymouth routinely loses out on getting our fair share of funding and resources. It also confirms the incompetence of the current Government, who must act urgently to ensure testing capacity is increased across the country.”