Protect the vulnerable. No more excuses, sort out the COVID-19 testing chaos NOW

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Last week my two young children, 1 and 3 years old, came down with Coronavirus symptoms. As the advice clearly states I sought to get them tested - but I was bitterly disappointed to find the nearest available test centre was over 2 hours drive away. I had no choice but to drive two ill children for hours to the test site, but when we finally arrived I was told that the whole site was closed because they’d run out of tests.

It was utter chaos and I know I am not alone. I posted about my experience on social media and parents, carers and key workers up and down the country have been in touch with me to share their experiences. None of them were good. 

Right now, thousands of people are unable to get tested for Covid-19, despite having symptoms. People are frantically trying to book a test, only to find that there’s none - some have been told to drive 500 miles to the nearest test centre. Essential workers staying home, patients having operations cancelled and students and staff stopped from attending school - simply because they cannot get a test.

I just can’t get my head round this level of incompetence - the Government’s ‘world leading’ testing system is in utter chaos and I’m calling on Matt Hancock to take responsibility and urgently sort this mess out. 

A functioning testing system is crucial in avoiding another lockdown and more excess deaths.  We need this to work in order to protect the most vulnerable in society.

People like my father, who passed away from COVID-19 earlier this year, have died unnecessary or premature deaths because of this Government’s handling of this crisis. This has left families up and down the country mourning during lockdown, isolated from those that they love. And instead of taking responsibility, they are passing the blame onto the public.

I’m calling on the Government to take responsibility by:

 - Ensuring priority and vulnerable groups have immediate access to tests - including NHS staff, care homes and school students

 - Being transparent and publish data about distance to test centres and how many are failing to access tests, so that they can be held to account

 - Sorting out the backlog of tests as soon as possible so that the public has access to tests and get the results back in 24 hours.

With winter ahead of us time is running out. Medical staff have warned that unless this is fixed soon, a second spike is inevitable. I’m urging the Government to do all it can to protect the most vulnerable - please sign my petition so we can make our voices heard.