The viability of home testing kits and what is happening to mobile testing units in the Highlands has been questioned by Labour’s Rhoda Grant MSP.
Rhoda Grant took up the case of a constituent who lives in the NHS Highland Board area concerned about an elderly neighbour who had taken a Covid 19 test and then been at a loss as to how to get it to a testing centre.
Despite contacting NHS Highland and a local testing centre as a matter of urgency, the test was not picked up until 72 hours after it had been completed – making it highly unlikely to provide an accurate result.
After raising the issue with Jeane Freeman, Health Minister in the Scottish Government Rhoda Grant said:
“I’ve been told that not only are home-testing kits useless in some areas of my patch but also that mobile testing units across the Highland mainland will be available to book online until the end of August.
“This begs the question as to what happens at the end of this month for those needing a test, especially as home-testing might be ruled out for many.
“The Health Secretary has made the UK Government and NHS Highland aware of the problem asking them to sort it out, but I’ve gone back to her asking if the Scottish Government has the cast iron assurance that everyone who is symptomatic can access tests quickly and without difficulty.
“It’s yet another example of our region being at a disadvantage and of the centralisation of so many services. We need more support for the Highlands and Islands and it should not be left to struggle to access testing facilities.”
In her reply Jeane Freeman said that she was aware of the issue:
“I am aware that in some remote areas, home testing kits are not available because of difficulties with the delivery of the kits in a timely manner. The key challenge for reaching certain areas is the high potential for sample degradation during longer courier timescales from Royal Mail pick-ups to arriving at the laboratory.
“The UK Government have a Regional Testing Centre in Inverness and Mobile Testing Units have also been deployed to increase access to testing and to support priority areas, in particular, in care homes and where the need is greatest.
“The current locations of the Mobile Testing Units are in Oban, Dornoch, Fort William, Ullapool, Kingussie, Thurso, Portree, Campbelltown and Lochgilphead. These are available on the online booking portal until the end of August.
“My officials have raised the matters contained in your letter directly with NHS Highland and the UK Government to make them aware of the issues encountered here, and to ask them to liaise at local level to put in hand the necessary improvements to their respective existing processes. I am very clear that we must ensure that all individuals in Highland who are symptomatic can access tests quickly and without difficulty.”
Here are the arrangements for those living in Orkney who require a Covid test.
For more information for those living in Orkney please visit NHS Orkney Website