UK

Coronavirus: Nicola Sturgeon ‘hopeful’ virus results backlog will be resolved

lighthouse lab staff Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Some people have had to wait longer than they should for results from Lighthouse laboratories

Scotland’s first minister has said she is hopeful that a backlog in coronavirus test results will be resolved shortly.

Nicola Sturgeon said she had held “constructive” talks with UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock over the issue.

She added that she had sought assurances that Scotland would continue to get “fair access” to the UK-wide laboratory scheme.

And she said she hoped to see an improvement in the coming days.

An average of about 12,700 coronavirus tests in Scotland are processed every day by the UK government’s network of Lighthouse laboratories, such as the one in Glasgow, with a further 4,700 being processed by the Scottish NHS and other public health laboratories.

Mr Hancock has warned that the system across the UK is facing an “enormous challenge” after a sharp rise in people seeking tests, and said it would take a “matter of weeks” to resolve.

He also said the government would update its testing policy shortly to prioritise the most urgent cases.

About 220,000 tests are processed each day, according to government figures released last week, with a testing capacity of more than 350,000 – which includes swab tests and antibody tests.

The aim is to increase that to 500,000 a day by the end of October.

Ms Sturgeon raised concerns on Monday about people apparently having to wait longer than they should for test results from these laboratories in recent days.

The first minister told her daily briefing on Tuesday that she did not know how many people in Scotland were having to wait longer than 48 hours to get their results.

She stressed that many people were still getting their results on time, but said “too many” others were not.

Image caption Ms Sturgeon said she had sought assurances from the UK government that Scotland would get “fair” access to its laboratory capacity

Ms Sturgeon added: “We hope that this is an improving situation, but the turnaround times right now are not as I would want them to be for everybody.

“That is the issue, working with the UK government, that we are trying to resolve in terms of any accumulated backlog over the last few days.

“But also to try to make sure that, as we go forward, we are not accumulating any further backlog”.

Ms Sturgeon said the laboratory results system in Scotland had been impacted by demand from other parts of the country, and that if demand in Scotland had been higher it would have impacted on other areas of the UK.

‘Fair share’

She said she was confident that Scotland would continue to gets its “fair share” of capacity, and said she was examining whether NHS laboratories in Scotland could be used to ease some of the pressure.

A further 267 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Scotland in the past 24 hours – of which 101 are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 59 are in Lanarkshire, 53 in Lothian and 12 in Ayrshire and Arran.

Ms Sturgeon said additional restrictions on meeting in homes in several council areas within NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which last night were extended for another week, appeared to be helping to slow the spread of the virus.

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