Local Serco testing failures let down residents

The latest failure by Serco to provide coronavirus testing facilities in Lees are letting down local residents, and just one of the failings of the testing system nationally, says local Liberal Democrat councillor Sam Al-Hamdani.

At 10.10 on Monday morning, an email to local councillors informed them that there would be testing facilities available on Monday and Tuesday this week, at the Co-op in Lees. By 11am, after a complaint about traffic, Serco had closed the site, before they later informed the Council that there was an issue.

Neither the local councillors, nor highways, were informed of the problem until later that week. Councillor Sam Al-Hamdani, having noticed the absence of the team on Tuesday, asked for an explanation, after receiving no updates from the Council or Serco themselves.

Councillor Al-Hamdani said: “Having had a series of problems before, I now always check that the testing team are there before I do anything. On Monday, I checked the site, and must have managed to see them in the hour before they packed up and left, so put out a public notice to people letting them know that the testing was on.

“That within one hour the site was disbanded, with no notification, is ridiculous. We need the testing system to be getting better and more organised, not less.”

Anyone who had already booked a test was diverted to Oldham town centre on the Monday, and by Tuesday, the testing had moved to Moorside.

“For anyone without a car, transferring the location at which they get tested at short notice is dangerous. Don’t forget, they must have symptoms in order to book a test, so they need to be able to access that test without getting on public transport.”

The contract for testing with Serco does not contain penalty clauses for failures, the latest in a series of calamitous decisions in the handling of the pandemic by the Conservative Government.

Councillor Al-Hamdani has now suggested alternative sites to the Co-op to provide local testing, and has written to the Department of Health to complain about Serco’s approach

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