Thu 1 Oct, 2020

Scotland needs to stop falling back on the failed privatised UK system and start using our NHS testing labs to upscale to mass testing in Scotland. Allowing them to gather dust and close should have been unthinkable Alison Johnstone

Serious questions must be answered about why a COVID-19 testing lab was allowed to close during the pandemic when the World Health Organisation puts testing as the first priority in tackling the virus, the Scottish Greens have said.

The Scotsman exclusively revealed this morning that a NHS Lothian lab at Edinburgh University was closed this summer party due to a lack of testing samples. This is despite repeated calls from the Scottish Greens to increase the volume of asymptomatic testing to better track and isolate the virus, as well as providing weekly tests for frontline staff.

Instead, the Scottish Government has relied on the privatised UK-wide testing network, which has struggled to cope.

Scottish Greens health spokesperson Alison Johnstone said: ““It is shocking that an NHS testing lab has closed during the global pandemic. This lab closed while the First Minister was rejecting my proposals for regular testing of frontline staff, a call backed by the Royal College for Emergency Medicine, the Royal College for Nursing and Scottish Carers.

“The lack of testing in Scotland has been a policy choice. The World Health Organisation has been crystal clear from the very beginning that this virus can only be controlled through the vigorous application of testing, testing, testing.

“The reasons for this closure are very telling. There are serious questions about why a COVID testing lab was not receiving enough samples.

“Scotland needs to stop falling back on the failed privatised UK system and start using our NHS testing labs to upscale to mass testing in Scotland. Allowing them to gather dust and close should have been unthinkable."

On Friday the Scottish Greens wrote to the First Minister to call for the massive upscaling of NHS Scotland testing to boost Scotland's efforts to control the virus.

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