Sheffield MP demands answers over reports millions of Covid lateral flow tests were left locked in warehouse

A Sheffield MP has demanded answers after reports millions of Covid lateral flow tests were left sitting in a warehouse over Christmas amid national shortages.

Thursday, 6th January 2022, 5:45 pm

Clive Betts, Labour MP for Sheffield South East, asked Boris Johnson during Prime Minister’s Questions what steps he had taken to seek assurances that rapid testing kits would be available over the festive break, and whether it was true millions of such tests were left locked in a warehouse during this period, while people across the country struggled to get hold of one.

Mr Johnson failed to answer those questions in parliament on Wednesday, but insisted the country was conducting more tests per head than any other country in Europe.

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Clive Betts, MP for Sheffield South East, questions Prime Minister Boris Johnson over reports millions of Covid lateral flow tests were left locked in a warehouse over Christmas, despite people across the country struggling to get hold of one (pic: parliamentlive.tv)

Following the exchange, Mr Betts said: “Over the festive break I checked in with several local pharmacies in my constituency and they all had the same note on the door saying no lateral flow tests available.

“Especially as we see a rise in cases, testing is paramount. My constituents want to do everything they can to protect themselves and others but are not able to do so due to a lack of tests – something being felt across the country.”

Mr Bett’s questions followed a significant rise in positive Covid-19 cases nationally, with the UK reporting 218,724 daily cases on Tuesday, and more than 20 hospital trusts nationally having had to declare critical incidents amid staff shortages and a rise in Covid patients.

Clive Betts MP added “It is incredibly alarming then when the Prime Minister cannot answer straightforward questions on what he has done to ensure there would be a ready supply over Christmas and New Year.

“It’s even more worrying to then hear that there was a warehouse full of tests left locked over Christmas, and that he may have known about it.

“We know this Prime Minister does not care much for details, but this is something that requires him to be aware of all the facts and it is quite clear he does not. Again he is falling way short of what the British public expect of him.”

Responding to Mr Betts in the Commons, Mr Johnson said: “We took every possible step to step up our supply of tests. We tripled the supplies, and deliveries went up to 900,000 a day.

“To listen to them you would not believe that this was the country that was conducting more tests per head than any other country in Europe.

“They are simply refusing to give credit where it’s due. I appreciate that huge numbers of people want to be tested but we are doing our level best to meet demand.”

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals revealed this week that the number of Covid patients on its wards had leapt from 75 before the festive season to 234 as of January 4 – but it said fewer patients currently require critical care than in previous waves.

Figures revealed more than 2,000 staff at the trust were absent on Boxing Day, in line with hospitals across England where high numbers of NHS staff are self-isolating due to the disease.