The leader of Cornwall Council has called for urgent action to fix the Covid-19 testing system which he says “isn’t working”.
Julian German made the comments in his announcements to a meeting of the full council this morning.
The council had invited members of the public to share their experiences of the testing system after being concerned about it.
Cllr German said that hundreds of people had responded and that these would be shared with Cornwall’s MPs and the Government.
He said: “Giving residents access to testing remains a key priority in order to tackle the virus and last week I made a promise to update MPs with regards to our concerns about the lack of access to testing in Cornwall.
“I’m grateful to the many hundreds of residents who told us about their experiences with the government’s Covid-19 testing system. It’s clear from the sheer volume of responses that the system isn’t working, and I’m deeply concerned that people of Cornwall are suffering as a result.
“This isn’t about asymptomatic people putting strain on the system. The responses we’ve had are from people who have Covid-19 symptoms and are trying to do the right thing by following government guidance. We must do all we can to support them and keep our residents safe.
“Some of the stories we’ve heard are truly disturbing. From the carer self-isolating and unable to work because of a delay in receiving her test results, to the parents of a poorly child who were forced to travel almost a hundred miles for a test – only for the appointment to be cancelled when they were halfway there.
“These examples are shocking – but sadly they’re not unique. If we are to beat this virus, we need a testing system that is fit for purpose. I worry that at this present moment we don’t have one.
“I have written to our MPs with our findings and asked for their support in the hope they can press decision-makers in government to make desperately needed changes to the testing system.
“We can’t wait weeks. These changes need to happen now.”
Cllr German also told councillors that he would be writing to Boris Johnson this week asking the Prime Minister to let the council use money which remains from the coronavirus grants scheme to help those businesses which have not yet had any support.
The council has been pressing the Government since July to get the money released and out to companies in Cornwall which are struggling to keep afloat.
Cllr German said: “Our businesses are already suffering from the economic impacts of the virus. I have yet to receive a reply from the Chancellor regarding Cornwall’s call for the unspent business rates grant money to be released to help those businesses that have said they need it through the discretionary business grant process. I will therefore write to the Prime Minister this week, making the case again to Government.
“No one understands business needs in Cornwall as well as those of us who live and work here, and we should be allowed to distribute that money to the people who need it most. We need to help these businesses and to protect the people they employ. As the furlough scheme draws to an end, this money, that we continue hold, waiting for the government to say we can release it, could provide vital support for Cornwall’s businesses.”