Testing operations provided by Immensa Health Clinic in Wolverhampton were suspended earlier this month by NHS Test and Trace. An investigation was launched after reports were received of people receiving negative PCR results after previously testing positive using lateral flow
Up to 43,000 people may have been given wrong results according to the UK Health Security Agency.
But on Monday Emily Doorbar, Staffordshire County Council’s Covid defence lead, confirmed that no Staffordshire tests had been sent to the lab in question.
Speaking at a health scrutiny committee meeting on Monday she said: “Our tests are sent to a couple of different locations; one of which being Keele and sometimes further north. The only time we move outside of that is if we are doing emergency testing or outside testing and usually we arrange for the samples to be processed at Keele University when we do that.”
Stone councillor Jill Hood said her six-year-old grandson had twice been left waiting more than three days for a PCR result and they were now embarking on their third trip to the test centre.
“We still haven’t had the results back and that was five days ago”, she said. “This afternoon we are tootling off to the same place.
“I’m wondering, without being too caustic, are you now having volunteers who are not capable of running these testing centres? I have spoken to a few parents at the same school and it’s the same story – I’m very worried about it.
“I have no doubt the volunteers are doing an excellent job. I have taken many people to the PCR testing centres and they are incredible, but there is obviously some kind of breakdown to the test centre where I have been taking said child.”
Ms Doorbar responded: “I’m sorry to hear of your experience. Without specific details of the test sites and dates I can’t address the individual issue, but what I would suggest is test centre testing rates in Staffordshire are one of the highest nationally.
“We have a really high test rate with a high turnaround rate and high test result, which is an indication of the tests going smoothly. In the example you’re providing it would indicate that the results are lost somewhere because of an administrative error.
“If there are individual circumstances we would welcome the feedback so we can find out what may have caused that and the type of test centre. I am quite confident the volunteers are dedicated, they do have the training they need and these incidences should be very few and far between.”
She added that Covid rates remained high in Staffordshire and above both the national and West Midlands average. The highest case rates are among schoolchildren, the meeting was told, but there had been increases across all age groups.
She said: “Hospitalisations are starting to creep up nationally and locally. NHS and social continue to experience substantial pressures due to a combination of rising demand and workforce shortages, however deaths from all causes remain around the same as the five-year average.
“Vaccination boosters and the 12-15year-old programme has slowed due to issues with general practice and MPFT (Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust) capacity. Also the younger age group has the highest infection rate at the moment and there is a 28-day delay between infection and when you’re able to access your vaccinations that is causing an onward delay as well.
“But police are taking anti-vaccination campaigners quite seriously and 12-15-year-olds can now book their vaccination online, so we’re hoping that will invigorate that further.”
Covid case rates per 100,000 people in Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent in the seven days to Monday, October 25 according to figures presented to the meeting:
Stoke on Trent: 507.8
Staffordshire Moorlands: 715.3
Cannock Chase 671
East Staffordshire: 542.5
South Staffordshire: 536.6
West Midlands: 468.8