Screengrab of government
Screengrab of government's 'Get a coronavirus test' website with 'this service is currently very busy' message.

Health and social care staff may be unable to get Covid-19 tests in the run-up to winter. This is because of a backlog of tests that could take four to six weeks to process.

The government has said it plans to increase daily testing capacity to 500,000 by the end of October. But they’ve missed every testing target to date. Leading health experts say that it will be too late, arguing for £10bn to be urgently redirected to localised systems.

A local test and trace system working well for frontline staff across Surrey was withdrawn and replaced by the national system, awarded to companies like Deloitte. Chessington was launched as a flagship government testing site available for hospital staff. However, in April frontline staff expressed their distress over test results being lost and Epsom Hospital called for Deloitte to be removed from running the centre.

Firms like Deloitte won these critical-delivery service contracts without any tendering process, a practice that’s now widespread, with outsourcing giant Serco given £108m and Sitel £84m to also run the national tracing service. Their contracts were renewed despite widespread reports of failure – with only one in four people testing positive being reached. Neither of the contracts apply service penalties for poor performance.

The Johnson government has given over £1.7bn of public funds to the private sector to run critical-delivery services during the pandemic, without any accountability. The consequences have been absolutely catastrophic, including failure to provide life-saving ventilators, PPE for frontline staff and now the collapse of track and trace.

This catastrophe has to end to prevent further tragedy.

We, the undersigned, demand Kingston Council urgently call on the government to put local public health teams and health services (including GPs and NHS laboratories) back in charge of testing and contact tracing in the community.

Sign the petition today!

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