Wansbeck’s Labour MP Ian Lavery has raised his concerns over recent reports that people are people told to travel hundreds of miles to find their closest available test.

As a recent tightening of the lockdown comes into place limiting people to meeting socially in groups of 6, down from a previous 30, there has been a recent surge in reports that people are unable to get a Coronavirus test locally, and as a result are being sent hundreds of miles across the country to their nearest testing centres.

Mr Lavery has reported that constituents have approached him complaining of being told to travel hours to get a test. One constituent from Bedlington was told to travel to Galashiels, a 150 mile round trip, another told to travel a 105 mile round trip from Newbiggin to Darlington, and most shockingly one being sent from Bedlington to Edinburgh, 226 miles and another country away.

Ian says he is working with the local council to solve this problem, and has written a letter to the Minister demanding immediate action be taken to improve the current testing system.

The full contents of the letter is as follows:

“Dear Secretary of State,

I am writing to you as a matter of urgency to express my utter disbelief at the disaster that is our coronavirus testing system and demand action be taken immediately.

Over the last few days, I have been inundated with correspondence from distressed constituents who have been told that they need to access a test, yet to do so are being directed hundreds of miles away from where they live. People cannot be expected to travel long distances for testing, and it is outrageous that our ‘world beating’ testing system is failing the population so badly. Why are people not able to access tests locally within the constituency of Wansbeck? When will this be addressed so that people can? How will people who have had to travel be reimbursed?

We have all seen how quickly this virus can spiral out of control and lessons should have been learnt about the importance of identifying the virus to contain the spread after the failure to lockdown quickly enough at the start of the year. Over 40,000 people have already lost their lives in the UK due to Coronavirus since the start of the year, and that number is looking like it will accelerate in the upcoming weeks and months. If your government does not quickly get a grip and tackle the test, track and trace system then I can see fatalities across this country increase rapidly. How many more heartbroken families will there be by the end of 2020?

The fact that this has not been done already, before sending people back to work and back to school is, in my opinion, completely negligent and a devastating insight into how your government values the lives of this population. The guidance has been slow, inconsistent and your utter inability to take responsibility demonstrates a deep-rooted incompetence governing at the very top of this country.

The people of Wansbeck deserve to know that their lives are valued and that their government will do what is needed to keep them as safe as possible. The population of this
country deserves so much better.

Devolving responsibility to private companies is clearly not working. Give our communities the resources that they need to tackle this pandemic in the best possible way. If you cannot do this, then then quite frankly your resignation should be immediate. You do not have the luxury of time to address this crisis, and you know exactly what will happen if you fail to do so.


Ian Lavery

Member of Parliament for Wansbeck.”


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