Dido Harding has come under fire again over the test and trace system and its apparent failures.
Shockingly only around a third of people who who turned up for a coronavirus test in England got results within 24 hours.
New England-wide measures which could see hospitality businesses shut are being considered by the UK government to slow a surge of coronavirus cases.
In light of these poor figures Harding denied it was “failing,” and the surge in infections was ‘unexpected.’
When pressed over whether the problems had been caused by a “second wave” coming earlier than expected as schools reopened and people returned to workplaces, Lady Harding responded: “I don’t think anybody was expecting to see the really sizeable increase in demand that we’ve seen over the course of the last few weeks.
“In none of the modelling was that expected, and that’s why I say I think we all have to think really hard about how we prioritise the use of these tests.”
In anticipation of the return of schools, “we planned for a sizeable increase in testing capacity”, she said, but “plainly we don’t have enough testing capacity today and we are doing everything in our power to increase the testing capacity”.
Her comments have slammed by many including Tottenham MP David Lammy.
He Tweeted: “750,000 covid-19 test requests are not being answered every day.
“Dido Harding calls the autumn surge almost every public health expert has been warning about for months about ‘unexpected’. Government incompetence at a staggering scale is holding our country back.
“As pressure continued to mount on the Government over the chaos in the testing system, Baroness Harding – head of NHS Test and Trace – acknowledged that demand was significantly outstripping capacity.”
To add insult to injury Harding suggested that the size of the system had been based on modelling by the Government’s scientific advisers, and suggested the problems were exacerbated by people without symptoms seeking tests for which they were ineligible.
Her appointment to the critically important role was a surprise to many and she confirmed that she was handed the job by Matt Hancock without any competition. When asked about how she got her new role she replied “I didn’t apply to do the job I’m doing at the moment, I was asked to serve by by ministers. I suspect like everybody working on the COVID response, I felt it was the appropriate thing to do to serve my country and and say yes to that request.”
Mocking the Government’s failings over testing in the Commons, shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said: “It’s become not so much test and trace, more like trace a test.”
Labour MP Richard Burgon said Lady Harding should be sacked.
Dr Layla McCay, director at the NHS Confederation, said: “It appears we are now in a position where the spread of the virus is no longer being adequately controlled, with new cases nearly tripling compared with the end of August.”
James O’Brien mockingly Tweeted: “Dido Harding was very surprised to see the sun come up this morning.”
Faced with criticism of the shortage of tests, Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg told MPs that “instead of this endless carping”, people should “celebrate the phenomenal success of the British nation in getting up to a quarter of a million tests of a disease that nobody knew about until earlier in the year”.
The latest figure showed an ability to carry out 242,817 tests a day, but the Government has pledged that will increase to 500,000 by the end of October.
Meanwhile, in the latest sign that stricter measures may be required to control the spread of the virus, around two million people in the north east of England will be banned from socialising with other households, following a “concerning” rise in Covid-19 cases.
New testing figures for England showed 33.3% of people who were swabbed at a regional site, local site or mobile testing unit received their result within 24 hours – despite Boris Johnson’s promise that they would all be turned around within that timescale by the end of June.