Calls for NHS and care home testing to be 'mobilised'

Mobile coronavirus testing needs to be increased in Scotland to ensure NHS staff and care workers can be kept safe, it was claimed today, after Nicola Sturgeon admitted that current testing capacity was not being fully used.

Oppostion MSPs have called for testing to be extended and mobilised across Scotland.
Oppostion MSPs have called for testing to be extended and mobilised across Scotland.

Take up at testing sites for key workers across the country has been low – with staff at the Glasgow Airport site being sent home early due to a lack of people arriving to be tested.

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Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw today said Scotland’s geography presented a challenge and that a more “mobile approach” could radically increase the number of people being tested.

And Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said those working with vulnerable people were “crying out for tests” making it “incredible that we have testing labs half empty.”

Yesterday at First Minister’s Questions, Nicola Sturgeon admitted that testing capacity was not being fully utilised but that the government was expanding testing to care homes and said more key workers were being tested every week.

Mr Carlaw said that the testing at hubs had been “disappointingly low” and said people’s access to the sites was proving a challenge.

“We know it’s not because people don’t want to be tested, it’s because getting to these places after a long shift is simply out of the question. That’s why we should be looking into taking these tests to the workers across Scotland,” he said.

“With the best will in the world, a nurse in Dumfries and Galloway is not going to drive to Glasgow Airport after 12 hours on the frontline.

“And we have seen this week that in the Highlands, there’s only one testing hub, which is great for those in and around Inverness, but nothing like close enough for many others. We’ve argued that the Scottish Government can diverge from the UK approach when it can be shown that it’s of benefit to Scots.

“Taking the lead on mobile testing, especially given our distinct geography, would be the perfect way to do that.”

Mr Harvie said there had been repeated warnings by experts and the World Health Organisation that testing, tracing contacts and isolating positive cases was fundamental to beating the virus.

He said: “I welcome Scotland’s increased capacity to test people for coronavirus, but yesterday Nicola Sturgeon told me we’re not using this capacity to its full. When those working with vulnerable people are crying out for tests, it seems incredible that we have testing labs half empty.

“If Scotland is to implement the test, trace, isolate method experts are calling for, there needs to be a clear strategy which uses the expertise and capacity we have. I hope the First Minister can explain exactly how that will happen at her daily briefing.”

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