MP Bill Esterson has accused the government of incompetence over the Covid test shortage.

Bill Esterson is the MP for Sefton Central and he has been contacted by a number of constituents who had been unable to get a test locally despite having symptoms. One was offered 150-mile round trip to Doncaster for a test.

Mr Esterson said the government had had all summer to prepare for a surge in demand for tests, and failure to have an effective system in place was unacceptable.

Mr Esterson said: “With the return of children to schools and more people going back to the workplace, it was inevitable that there would be an increase in demand for Covid tests. Why has the government not prepared properly for this? They have been found asleep at the wheel again.   

“This increasing prevalence of Covid-19 is deeply worrying and the best way to control the virus is to test and isolate. How can we do that if tests are not available?

“At the start of summer my Labour colleagues and I warned Ministers that an effective test, trace and isolate regime was needed ahead of the autumn. Rather than following our advice Ministers have created a fiasco in testing and contact tracing.  

“What is needed is an effective locally led test, trace and isolate service to drive infections down and keep people safe.”

Bill Esterson said one constituent’s daughter contacted 111 for advice at 12.30pm on Saturday (Sept 12) and at 9pm was advised to be tested as it was likely to be Covid.

She was told by the government system that there were no tests available at Southport or Bootle. Mr Esterson said: “She even contacted the Department for Health and Social Care and they told her there was no testing capacity anywhere. She was just told to keep trying. Meanwhile, her children are off school and she can’t go to work.”