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Number of lateral flow tests to be capped as free tests scaled back

Number of lateral flow tests to be capped as free tests scaled back
Tests will only be free for the most vulnerable from April.

人们 have struggled to order lateral flow tests online amid a scramble for free kits while they are still available.

The number of free tests available each day will be capped to “manage demand” as the 政府 scales back free testing for people in England.

Tests ordered online are only available every three days, when previously people could order a new pack every 24 小时.

The public has been encouraged not to stockpile test packs but since the changes were announced the system has been overwhelmed with people trying to order tests.

People have struggled to order lateral flow tests (公共广播)
People have struggled to order lateral flow tests (公共广播)

This could include people who have Covid-19, or those who have been close contacts of confirmed cases.

A message on the Government testing portal states: “Sorry, there are no home delivery slots left for rapid lateral flow tests right now.”

It is not the first time the system has been overwhelmed, with previous issues attributed to delivery constraints.

The UK Health Security Agency said that test availability is refreshed regularly so people are encouraged to re-visit the site every few hours as more will become available.

Ahead of the end of free universal testing in England, it will be necessary for UKHSA to cap the number of tests distributed each day to manage demand

Living with Covid plan

在星期一, 总理 鲍里斯·约翰逊 set out his intention to end universal free testing in England, saying that the system had cost more than £2 billion in January alone.

He said that free testing for the general public would end on April 1, but tests would still be available to symptomatic elderly and vulnerable people.

The Living with Covid plan states: “Over two billion lateral flow tests have been provided across the UK since 2020.

“UKHSA continues to have good stock levels and will manage these to provide flexibility in future.

“Ahead of the end of free universal testing in England, it will be necessary for UKHSA to cap the number of tests distributed each day to manage demand.

“Given that advice to test has and continues to reduce, the Government urges people only to order what they need.”

Mr Johnson added: “We’re working with retailers to ensure that everyone who wants to can buy a test.”

The costs of tests can vary significantly – one Government supplier charges £5 for a single test but this can reduce in price with bulk buying.

Meanwhile concerns have been raised that 国民保健服务 staff may not be able to access free tests.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said on Monday: “Of particular concern is the Government’s decision to exclude NHS staff from access to free testing from April – 94% of health leaders we surveyed recently said access to free tests for NHS staff and other key workers should not end.

Patients, staff and visitors deserve to feel confident that they can access and work in services without risking their own health or causing worry to those around them.

“This is particularly true for people from clinically vulnerable groups who may already feel sidelined.

“We urge the Government to reconsider its plan with dedicated funding for continued access to Covid tests for all NHS workers in patient-facing roles.”

萨吉德·贾维德 (Andrew Matthews/PA)
萨吉德·贾维德 (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “If NHS staff need tests they will be provided with free tests – that will be a decision for the NHS.

“Even before Covid, the NHS has always sensibly made a decision on tests and keeping their staff safe, because keeping staff safe means keeping their patients safe and it’s always about patient safety.”