More lateral flow tests to be available in Bedford soon

Bedford Borough Council is expecting delivery to local teams 'at any moment'
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Availability of lateral flow tests will improve 'quite rapidly' in the coming days, and delivery to local teams is anticipated 'at any moment'.

The assurance was given at yesterday's (Thursday, January 6) Bedford Borough Council Local Outbreak Engagement Board after Green councillor Lucy Bywater (Castle Ward) asked about the availability of lateral flow tests.

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"I think we all know from friends or family that the demand [for tests] is massive and for friends who are working in health settings particularly, as they don't seem to be prioritised," she said.

A lateral flow testA lateral flow test
A lateral flow test

"I have a friend who's a nurse and she's been asking if anyone has any spare tests, which I think is just really shocking, so do we have a sense of what's being done about that," she asked.

As a further example for the need for improved test availability, councillor Bywater said as immunity wanes from the booster older people in care settings who had their booster early would be especially vulnerable.

"Are our workers in healthcare settings having access to those [lateral flow] tests so they can test regularly," she asked.

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The council's chief officer for public health, Ian Brown, replied: "Obviously, there are national constraints at the moment in terms of lateral flow test availability.

"But we are being given assurances that huge numbers are being brought into the country now, are on order, and in fact are now beginning to make their way through into local areas.

"We're anticipating a delivery to our local teams any moment now and we're also putting in place measures as well to help the health service as well," he added.

Mr Brown explained that some of the new stock will be set aside so that some supplies would be available for keyworkers.

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"We also have a special permission from UKSHA to use some of the tests that are normally used for the supervised testing in test centres can be distributed to health and care workers if they can't get them any other way," he said.

"But we're not out of the woods yet in terms of the availability of lateral flow tests, but we are being given assurances that that situation is going to improve quite rapidly in the coming days."

People wanting to test before Christmas and changes to the rules created a "perfect storm" in test availability, but Mr Brown said he expects it will die down a bit when everyone is back into their regular post-holiday routines.

"No doubt there's going to be continued reliance on lateral flow tests for the near future, and we need to encourage people to keep trying as well," he said.

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"The national portal can be frustrating if there is not any availability, but actually availability is changing throughout the day.

"It's always worth ringing around checking the pharmacies as well to see what supplies they have.

"But it's just knowing where and when [tests are available] which is the challenge at the moment," he said.