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Covid-19 Laboratory Testing Capacity

Volume 681: debated on Tuesday 6 October 2020

As part of the drive towards the capacity target of 500,000 tests a day by the end of October, we have announced additional Lighthouse labs as part of the national lab network, and work is ongoing to expand the UK’s lab capacity inside the NHS.

The Lighthouse labs do not appear to be delivering sufficient test results. Schools and care homes in my constituency are still having to wait an unacceptably long time for covid-19 test results, and the delays are making it difficult for them to operate properly. What is my right hon. Friend doing to make better use of the many life science companies in Kent, including those at Discovery Park in Sandwich and at the Kent Science Park in my constituency of Sittingbourne and Sheppey? Those companies have laboratories in which some of the tests taken in Kent could be analysed.

We are increasingly contracting with labs like the ones my hon. Friend mentions—as well as the Lighthouse labs, which have huge capacity—to make sure that we can both increase capacity and reduce the turnaround time. I am glad to say that the latest figures for the past week showed that the turnaround time is coming down, which is important in Kent and right throughout the country.