The organization that represents the publicly funded hospitals of England warned Tuesday that COVID-19 testing shortages across the country are jeopardizing efforts to restore medical services and prepare for a potential surge in cases over the winter.
The National Health Service (NHS) in England is facing an increase in staff absences due to employees and their family members being unable to access a COVID-19 test. Without a test for either them or their loved ones, NHS staff are having to self-isolate after possible exposure to the virus, taking them away from the front line of the pandemic where they are desperately needed, according to a press release from NHS Providers.
NHS Providers CEO Chris Hopson said that hospital leaders in the British cities of Bristol, London and Leeds all raised concerns over the weekend about the lack of testing. He said hospitals “are working in the dark — they don’t know why these shortages are occurring, how long they are likely to last, how geographically widespread they are likely to be and what priority will be given to healthcare workers and their families in accessing scarce tests.”
“They need to know all this information so that they can plan accordingly,” he said in a statement Tuesday. “We need to prioritize tests for healthcare workers and their families and patients coming in for treatment, many of whom have already waited longer than normal.”
U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel told BBC that delays in testing for the public are “unacceptable.”