A DORSET care home had to throw away 200 coronavirus tests because a courier did not turn up on time to take them away, a councillor has revealed.

Cllr Laura Miller, Dorset Council cabinet member for Adult Social Care and Health, has written to Matt Hancock to highlight the worrying incident.

In her letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, she wrote: "I write with concern regarding the Government's testing for coronavirus.

"Although I am well aware that this is a national issue, I would like to highlight a very worrying recent experience in Dorset.

"Recently, a local care home ordered 200 tests to be delivered. They were completed by staff and residents and the courier booked. The courier failed to attend in time for the tests to remain viable and all had to be discarded.

"This would be unfortunate were it a one off; but is unacceptable as it is a common occurrence."

Bournemouth Echo: Cllr Laura MillerCllr Laura Miller

Cllr Miller was also critical of the way the government has been running its testing programme and the lack of communication with local authorities.

She continued: "Another issue we face is that Pillar 2 testing programme is being run as if it is a commercial operation, with frequent references to slots 'being sold out'. Language is important - testing is an essential plank of the response to a pandemic; and needs to be developed with a clear public health strategy underpinning it.

"Lack of local ownership over regional and mobile test sites and how they are run means complaints about operations are not responded to. This leads to local residents losing confidence in the system, and understandably they will then direct their anger, fear and frustrations at Local Authorities.

"I am very concerned that the national policy of essentially turning off supply of local testing sots to protect the lab capacity for high priority areas will disproportionately affect us here in Dorset. If this national approach continues it would seem unlikely that the region with the fewest cases (South West) will ultimately be the back of the queue until lab capacity has significantly improved, which could take considerable time.

"It is apparent that there is a lack of transparency from central Government over the extent of issues with laboratory capacity. Leaders in local authorities are not being equipped by your department with honest answers around the timescale for improvement and resolution of this problem - and this just means that public are losing trust and confidence in the capacity of the system to deliver.

"Please, give us clear updates that we can be honest with the public about. Saying defensively that more testing is being added all the time with no explanation of the core issues means we all, collectively, lose credibility with the public, who deserve our support, reassurance and efficiency now more than ever."