Scrapping free Covid tests: Govt must come clean on costs

The Liberal Democrats have called on Ministers to ‘come clean’ over the cost of providing free Covid tests and the basis for scrapping them, in the face of surging cases and hospitalisations.

Daisy Cooper, the Liberal Democrat Health and Social Care spokesperson, has tabled two written parliamentary questions asking for the total cost of providing free tests – but the Government has refused to answer claiming the information is ‘commercially sensitive’.

SAGE member Professor Matt Keeling has urged the Government to halt plans to ditch free rapid testing, saying free tests could even be ‘cost saving if they help prevent sufficiently many hospital admissions’.

The Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to come clean and publish figures on how much is currently being spent on providing free Covid tests, and to carry out an impact assessment on how scrapping them could impact on the NHS and Covid-related hospital admissions – warning cutting access to free testing will leave scientists and the NHS “flying blind”.

Commenting Liberal Democrat Health & Social Care Spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP said: “It is ridiculous that ministers are keeping the public in the dark by refusing to say how much it costs to provide free Covid tests for everyone.

Daisy Cooper MP

“Many people are rightly angry that the government is scrapping free tests just as cases are surging and the cost of living crisis bites. It is a tax on caring for all those who want to do the right thing and get tested before visiting elderly or vulnerable relatives.

“Sajid Javid needs to come clean and publish these figures now, as well as carrying out an urgent assessment of how ending free Covid testing will impact the NHS.

“As the government’s own scientific advisers have warned, this penny pinching approach could backfire if it leads to even more cases, hospitalisations and pressure on the NHS.”

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