Doctors have criticised the coronavirus testing system as “an utter shambles” after it emerged that some are being told to undertake round trips of up to 522 miles to get swabbed.
Hospital medics and GPs have described how delays of up to four days to get a test and five days to receive the result forces them to isolate and means they cannot work normally in the NHS.
A dossier of cases being collated by the Doctors’ Association UK discloses how a male GP in Margate in Kent who was displaying symptoms was told to travel 266 miles to Leeds in West Yorkshire to have a test.
In another case a hospital doctor in Basildon, Essex, had to undertake a 250-mile round trip to Glenfield hospital in Leicester. When the occupational health department at his NHS trust could not provide a test they advised him to use the test-and-trace website instead.
Dr Rinesh Parmar, the chair of the DAUK, said: “The current arrangements for Covid-19 testing are an utter shambles. We have key workers, such as GPs and hospital doctors, who are unable to access testing, having to self-isolate and ultimately not see patients.
“With an already stretched NHS workforce and 8,274 doctor vacancies in England alone prior to the pandemic, we can ill afford to have doctors self-isolating due to a lack of available testing.”
Responding to the DAUK’s evidence, Jon Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, said: “Throughout this crisis the failure of ministers to properly protect frontline NHS staff has been one of the most unforgivable mistakes. To leave hospital doctors and GPs exposed and struggling to get a test is another staggering failure. The testing fiasco need fixing urgently and ministers need a credible plan to roll out regular routine testing of all frontline NHS staff to give them the protection they deserve.”