Families across Devon worried after COVID test failures

Families in Devon are writing to MPs claiming that the COVID-19 testing system is failing in Exeter after being told to go back for retesting because their results could not be read.

Colleen Smith  17 Oct www.devonlive.com 

At least seven families who were tested at the Honiton Road Park and Ride test centre have since received the same official letter from the NHS.

Mums whose children were tested on Monday have been told they need to go back because of testing problems. Some say their children are refusing to have the uncomfortable swab test a second time.

Emma, a Newton Abbot mother has written to her MP saying the system is failing. After sharing a Facebook post she has had hundreds of replies and knows of at least seven families in the same position.

Another Exeter mum who asked to remain anonymous said she believed there may have been a “bad batch”.

She had taken her child to Honiton Park and Ride on Monday and finally got an email last night saying the result could not be read.

She said: “Now it would appear that five people so far who had a test on Monday had had the same email, which to me indicates a bad batch, we have all been asked to retest.

“The five day wait means a substantial loss of earnings with us all having to isolate for potentially another five days while we wait.

“Some of us are unable to work, also children are unable to attend school or nursery. It is also worrying as before my little one developed a temperature we were around elderly relatives who are now more at risk due to this delay and what appears to be a failing in the testing system.”

Emma from Newton Abbot contacted MP Anne-Marie Morris saying: “I am writing as one of your constituents, currently struggling with the consequences of Covid test system inefficiencies and failings.

“A number of local families recently presented at the coronavirus test centre in Exeter, at Honiton Road Park and Ride, on Monday October 12.

“We took our tests, and, despite having chased for results several times this week, many of us have received this message today (some are still waiting):

Families in Exeter are worried after receiving this letter

“It may appear that we didn’t test properly and the tests couldn’t be read, but a recent thread on a local parenting Facebook group highlights that there are at least six families who tested on Monday morning and received this same message last night. This number is growing as more parents join in the discussion.”

“We are dutifully rebooking and retaking tests where possible. Some families are out of the eight-day window for testing when symptoms first started so cannot retest. These delays have had immense impacts on us and our families this week.

“These general impacts for our families include: children unable to go to school, pre-school or nursery, parents unable to work from home with children around (both for employed and self-employed parents) and stress and other mental health impacts while we await delayed results and no idea of when this will be resolved

“Perhaps even more importantly, without knowing whether our symptoms are indeed due to coronavirus, us and members of our families could be unknowingly positive, and in the days before our tests and isolation we could have been infecting others which will not be traced. As that ripples out, the impact of a batch of lost or spoiled tests and a lack of communication is immense. As you know, this could result in illness or even death in large numbers. All the things we were trying to avoid when we got our families tested.

“Additionally, this results in a huge loss of faith in the testing system. No doubt this means many will decide to not get tested or isolate in the future.

“Please can you raise this at a governmental level. This is not the first time this has happened for many of these families, and probably is a wider issue.

“When the testing system works, it works really well. Quick turnarounds and effective communication mean that slight disruption is worth it for the peace of mind that we can get back to “normal” pretty quickly. “

DevonLive has contacted Public Health England for a comment.

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