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A Renfrewshire MP has slammed plans by the UK Government to stop supplying free covid tests.

Reports in several outlets this week suggest that the UK Government plans to end the provision of free lateral flow tests in the near future, possibly as soon as next month.

Senior scientific advisers have expressed concern about the plans, with the government’s own advisory group this month saying removing free tests will, “make it more difficult for people experiencing Covid-19 symptoms to confirm infections and take actions to reduce transmission to others.”

Meanwhile the Association of Directors of Public Health said the move would be “detrimental” to test take-up and said, “there remains of unpredictability about the course ahead.”

Charging for tests would cost individuals around £2 per test, when public health advice remains to take regular tests, particularly before mixing with other households.

And at a time when increases in the price of energy, fuel, food, and transport are all biting into household finances, there are fears the move could deter even more people from getting tested and helping stop covid being passed on to others.

Any move by the UK to reduce spending on testing would cost devolved administrations, including the Scottish Government, million of pounds due to the funding formula put in place by the UK.

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, condemned the proposed move as irresponsible.

Gavin said:

“Household costs are soaring while the UK Government sits on its hands, but they have managed to pull their finger out where it means hitting ordinary people in the pocket yet again.

“At every stage of the last two years they have raced towards abandoning public health advice in favour of what pleases the extreme wing of their own party, and here yet again it’s everyone else that will pay the cost.

“Last year the German government scrapped free testing – within a month they were forced to reverse course and once again provide tests to their citizens when it became clear they had made a mistake.

“The UK Government should be listening and learning from our European neighbours and allies, who are fighting the same pandemic we are, but it appears they are once again isolating themselves from the rest of Europe even when it comes to covid.

“While we are all grateful the surge in covid cases seems to have tailed off, nearly 6,000 people are testing positive every day in Scotland, over half of those detected by a lateral flow test alone. That shows the importance of regular testing and the need for these tests to continue.

“In this country we have a health service free at the point of need, and for any other disease that includes testing and diagnosis. Covid should be no different and the UK Government need to step up urgently and give people the reassurance that whatever decisions they may take for England, this will not affect the scope of devolved governments to provide healthcare for their citizens.”


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