FULL TEXT OF LETTER SENT BY CROSS PARTY COUNTY COUNCILLORS TO THE PRIME MINISTER, RELATING TO FAILING COVID 19 TEST, TRACK & TRACE SYSTEM AND ITS WORRYING IMPACT ON LINCOLNSHIRE.
Dear Prime Minister,
I am writing to draw your attention to the very significant issues we are experiencing in Lincolnshire in accessing testing for Covid-19. As you know, as a county, we have been fortunate to see relatively low levels of Covid19. A key reason for this has been access to testing and rapid turnaround of results. However, at a recent meeting of Lincolnshire County Council our members expressed grave concern that this has recently changed.
We have increasing numbers of positive cases and we need more access to tests in Lincolnshire. Throughout August, 85-90% of Lincolnshire residents accessed tests provided in the county. But this figure has dropped significantly – demonstrating the difficulties people are having in getting a test carried out locally. We are also experiencing difficulties in accessing enough tests for NHS and care home staff, patients and residents (Pillar 1 tests). NHS lab capacity is running out in the region, leading to the risk of some staff staying off work for longer due to their inability to access a test. This is causing business continuity problems and could compromise clinical care standards if not addressed swiftly.
I fully appreciate that the really sizeable increase in demand could not have been predicted and that the Government is investing in additional capacity to address this issue to improve turnaround time of results in the very near future. However, the present test, track and trace is not working very well, and people are having to travel long distances for a test. There are also long delays in getting back test results. This is increasing the risk for some of the most vulnerable residents of our county. During the same Council debate it was argued that the Covid-19 pandemic had also revealed the failings of our centralised system of governance and led to some councils spending more on responding to the cost pressures of Covid-19 than funding granted by Government.
I am therefore urging you to:
- substantially improve the test, track and trace system to ensure that tests are
readily available and results are returned within 24 hours;
- use the English Devolution Bill to deliver more powers to local councils without
necessarily strings being attached;
- use the English Devolution Bill to deliver the ‘levelling up’ agenda so as to reduce
the inequalities, including Government funding, that exist between different parts
Councillor Martin Hill OBE
Leader of the Council
(Letter also sent via Post)