Ripon MP ‘confident’ covid tests supply is improving after complaints system is in ‘chaos’
Julian Smith, MP for Ripon and Skipton.
Julian Smith

Skipton and Ripon MP Julian Smith has said the supply of covid tests is improving after complaints that the system is in “chaos”, with health workers and residents left empty handed.

Mr Smith was told at a North Yorkshire County Council meeting on Friday that there have been no lateral flow tests available at Skipton’s pharmacies with staff at the town’s vaccination centre also unable to get tested as demand soared over the festive period.

Conservative councillor Mike Chambers, who represents the Ripon North division, described the system as being in “chaos” after people in the city have struggled to get test kits.

Mike Chambers

Mike Chambers

Independent councillor Andy Solloway, who represents Skipton West, told the meeting the shortages were putting a strain on the local economy and had also led to some residents launching abuse at pharmacy staff. He said:

Conservative MP Mr Smith said the government recognised there has been a surge in demand for tests and that while supply chains were improving, he would write to Health Secretary Sajid Javid to highlight the issue.

He said:

“The government is aware there was a big crunch point just after Christmas and they are now more confident on supply.

“This is an important issue as we need to get people confident to go to their workplaces, particularly health workers and others on the frontline.”

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‘Ridiculous situation’

Friday’s meeting also heard complaints from Conservative councillor Stuart Martin that health workers – including a family member – had been unable to get tested.

Stuart Martin

Stuart Martin

Councillor Martin, who represents Ripon South and is also chairman of the county council, said:

“My daughter is a paramedic and some of her colleagues came to my door over the Christmas break as they were unable to access any testing kits whatsoever.

“Luckily we had a couple of tests that we were able to give them, but this is a ridiculous situation.”

It comes as the government has said the current Plan B covid restrictions will remain in place for now.

Changes from tomorrow

It has also been announced that people who test positive with a lateral flow test do not need a follow-up PCR test if they do not have symptoms. These changes come into force from tomorrow.

Mr Smith told Friday’s meeting that he believed the Plan B rules – which include working from home, face coverings on public transport and in public places, and NHS covid passes – were “relatively soft” and that the decision to stick with them was “proportionate”. He said:

“It feels as if that judgement has been correct, but obviously there are still very strong crosswinds on parts of the NHS.

“We are not out of the woods yet and we all need to do whatever we can to encourage the following of the rules.”

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