Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond, has raised concerns that the Scottish Government missed its own April testing target and that new plans announced today are still not going far enough to fight the current covid-19 crisis.
At the beginning of April, Nicola Sturgeon announced that 10,000 tests a day would be carried out but statistics show that in the past week only an average of 1,396 people have been tested on a daily basis by NHS Scotland. This is just 133 more per day than when the First Minister declared the intention to reach 10,000 tests a day. Final testing figures for Scotland in April showed that 2,537 tests were carried out on Thursday by NHS Scotland with a further 2,124 being carried out by the UK Government at testing stations in Scotland.
At her daily briefing, Nicola Sturgeon announced that NHS Scotland laboratories now had the capacity to carry out 4,350 tests a day, increasing the capacity from 3,500 at the start of April. The First Minister announced that capacity was set to increase to 8000 by the middle of May. This is still well short of the original target set.
Jackie Baillie has repeatedly urged the Scottish Government to increase the levels of testing both within hospitals, care homes and community settings, whether they are symptomatic or not.
Jackie Baillie MSP said:
“How are we ever meant to fully understand the scale of the challenge that we face if we are still testing so few people? The daily Scottish Covid-19 figures are going to continue to give a completely distorted snapshot of the extent of the problem until we drastically increase the level of testing.
“The World Health Organisation has been recommending widespread testing for months now yet the Scottish Government still seems to be far behind the curve.
“West Dunbartonshire has been particularly badly affected by Covid-19 – especially in our care homes. It is a fact that we are best equipped to protect patients, residents and support key workers when we have accurate figures on those who have contracted the virus. Like everyone else, I am keen for lock down restrictions to end but this is not going to be possible until we start to seriously increase our testing.”