Green Party uncovers coronavirus testing 'postcode lottery'

A Green Party Freedom of Information Request has shown there is a ‘postcode lottery’ when it comes to coronavirus test result waiting times, with some parts of the country receiving test results far quicker than others.

Coronavirus testing
Coronavirus testing

Image: Daniel Foster (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Green World

Waiting times for coronavirus test results vary significantly across different parts of the UK, with some areas experiencing average wait times up to 34 hours longer than others, the Green Party has revealed.

According to data obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) Act request submitted by the party shows Cardiff has the longest wait in the UK, where people had to wait an average of 45 hours to receive their test results, followed by Wembley in London (33 hours) and Lincoln (24 hours).

The shortest waits were recorded in Milton Keynes (11 hours), Glasgow (12 hours) and Llandudno (13 hours).

Four testing sites are also taking longer to return results than the 24-hour target set by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, including the Nightingale Excel Walk-In in London.

The Green Party’s FOI request also showed that the department of Health had no records on how many test results are unsuccessfully returned to those that took the tests.

Commenting on what the party calls a ‘postcode lottery’ for test result waiting times, Green Party peer Jenny Jones said: "Our testing system should not be a complete postcode lottery with over a full day's difference in waiting time for results between some regional testing centres.  

“We need Johnson to meet his commitment for all tests to be returned well under 24 hours, and we must level up all testing sites to the highest possible standards of efficiency."

Wales Green Party leader Anthony Slaughter said: “At a time when lockdown measures have been significantly relaxed across Wales, the news that the average time taken to receive Covid-19 test results in Cardiff is forty five hours is a deeply worrying failure on the part of Public Health Wales.  

“This unacceptable delay is endangering public health and reducing the efficiency of any attempts at a meaningful Test, Track and Isolate strategy.”

Caroline Russell, Green Party London Assembly member, said: “As we are being encouraged back to city centres and to reopen more parts of the economy, it’s worrying to hear there are such disparities in the time taken to return test results. 

 “Every hour counts as we try to stay on top of the virus and contact the people who have been in touch with confirmed cases so they can isolate to keep others safe. It’s not fair to affected communities if the time taken to get test results is letting down the track and trace system.”

The Green Party has been critical of the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis from the outset. Burnley Green councillor Andy Fewings said that the government’s test and trace system had “failed” after the government reimposed lockdown measures in Greater Manchester and other parts of the North West last week, and other Green Party figures have consistently called for caution when it comes to lockdown easing.

In April, Co-leader Sian Berry pressed for lockdown to be maintained until the virus could be effectively contained, with the party pushing for a system of contact tracing and the building of a network of local community protection schemes before lifting lockdown.

After the release of the government’s strategy ‘Our Plan to Rebuild’ in May, Green Peer Natalie Bennett criticised the effectiveness of coronavirus testing methods, with the swab test being described by users as “deeply unpleasant”, while Co-leader Jonathan Bartley raised concerns over the new Joint Biosecurity Centre, calling for the body responsible for the implementation of local lockdowns to be held “politically accountable”.