Posted: Mon 4th May 2020

Welsh Health Minister criticises ‘unhelpful’ and ‘misleading’ UK Government coronavirus testing website

North Wales news and information
This article is old - Published: Monday, May 4th, 2020

The Welsh Health Minister has criticised the UK Government’s coronavirus testing website after describing it as “unhelpful” and “misleading”.

The Gov.UK website recently had a page added where certain people can apply to have a COVID-19 test.

However, it indicates that if you live in Wales the only option is travelling to a regional test site and that there are “none available”.

Vaughan Gething said it did not give an accurate view of the availability of tests in the country.

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales yesterday morning, the minister said: “It’s really unhelpful because that does give a misleading impression about the availability for tests in Wales for people who need to have tests done.

“Actually, we have different methods of getting people the tests that need them, but because there’s a policy divergence on who should be tested, and what the purpose of the test is, then that website I think is particularly unhelpful.

“It would be much better if it would describe the differences in approach being taken rather simply saying this isn’t available in Wales.

“For people who need to be tested, for the testing policies underpinned by the advice of our chief medical officer and our chief scientific advisor, we have enough capacity now for all of those people.

“We will plainly need more if we’re going to come out of lockdown and that’s why each week I’m going to continue to state where we are with testing and what we can expect.”

Mr Gething also appeared to aim a dig at the UK Government’s wider testing policy during his interview.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on Friday that it had hit its target of reaching a self-imposed target of 100,000 a day.

But there was controversy after it emerged that a third of the 122,347 tests included were counted before they had been carried out.

Approximately 39,000 had also with no guarantee of the timescale for their completion, but were still included in the total.

The Welsh Government previously decided to ditch its own daily target after describing it as a “distraction” – a move which has attracted much criticism from opposition parties.

Mr Gething said: “England have gone out and created lots of capacity very quickly, and they’ve then gone out and used that capacity.

“The challenge is that from a policy point of view, there is clearly a difference, but that’s partly because England decided that having set a big target that they needed to go out and use all the tests.

“Other people will tell you about how much of those tests are actual tests or tests that have been sent out, but part of the difficulty we’ve had is that the scientific underpinning for how and why you extend that policy isn’t something where there has been a fully informed debate in advance.

“We don’t see that the science supports all of the differences in policy.”


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