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Written Question
Coronavirus: Protective Clothing and Screening
15 Sep 2021

Questioner: Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bethell on 2 August (HL128), whether they will now collect information centrally about the personal protective equipment (PPE) procured centrally;  and what is their estimate of (1) the “disproportionate cost” of collecting information about the companies involved in the supply chain, and (2) the total combined cost to public funds of PPE and lateral flow devices.

Answered by Lord Bethell

While information on personal protective equipment (PPE) is published on the Government’s Contracts Finder service, there are currently no plans to collect or publish data on sub-contractors and intermediaries.

Collating the information requested would involve detailed analysis of 339 individual contracts and detailed re-validation of purchase order and invoice data. This would exceed the disproportionate cost of £850.

The total spend for PPE during the financial year 2020/21 was £14.7 billion, which included the costs of freight, logistics and warehousing. The total cost of lateral flow devices is not held in the format requested.


Written Question
Coronavirus: Screening
13 Sep 2021

Questioner: Alex Cunningham (LAB - Stockton North)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will launch an investigation into Dante Labs for alleged failure to provide covid-19 PCR test results in line with advertised timescales.

Answered by Jo Churchill

While we currently have no plans to investigate Dante Labs, we are working with the organisation to understand a potential drop in performance on test turnaround times.


Written Question
Coronavirus: Screening
10 Sep 2021

Questioner: Theresa Villiers (CON - Chipping Barnet)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will remove Atruchecks from the list of covid-19 PCR test providers on the Government's website.

Answered by Jo Churchill

We have no current plans to do so.


Written Question
Coronavirus: Screening
9 Sep 2021

Questioner: Theresa Villiers (CON - Chipping Barnet)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that providers of covid-19 PCR tests listed on the Government's website are reputable operators providing acceptable levels of customer service.

Answered by Jo Churchill

The service standards of all private providers, including Atruchecks, are subject to continuous assessment. Organisations may be removed if they are found to be non-compliant with the minimum standards, fail to meet their accreditation deadlines where applicable or have been raised as a possible public safeguarding risk. For day two and day eight testing, the Government closely monitors the performance, including delivery and testing services, of private providers to ensure they deliver a high quality service to customers. Providers providing inadequate services receive a five-day warning to demonstrate they have rectified their service, and if not, are removed from the GOV.UK list. Private providers may be reinstated to the list once they have undertaken corrective action and provided the Department with such evidence.


Written Question
Coronavirus: Screening
9 Sep 2021

Questioner: Theresa Villiers (CON - Chipping Barnet)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the adequacy of the customer service provided by Atruchecks, a company listed on the Government's website as a covid-19 PCR test provider.

Answered by Jo Churchill

The service standards of all private providers, including Atruchecks, are subject to continuous assessment. Organisations may be removed if they are found to be non-compliant with the minimum standards, fail to meet their accreditation deadlines where applicable or have been raised as a possible public safeguarding risk. For day two and day eight testing, the Government closely monitors the performance, including delivery and testing services, of private providers to ensure they deliver a high quality service to customers. Providers providing inadequate services receive a five-day warning to demonstrate they have rectified their service, and if not, are removed from the GOV.UK list. Private providers may be reinstated to the list once they have undertaken corrective action and provided the Department with such evidence.


Written Question
Coronavirus: Screening
8 Sep 2021

Questioner: Paul Blomfield (LAB - Sheffield Central)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of expanding the official list of covid-19 symptoms which trigger testing.

Answered by Jo Churchill

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Justin Madders MP) on 30 June to Question 25024.


Written Question
Coronavirus: Screening
8 Sep 2021

Questioner: Justin Madders (LAB - Ellesmere Port and Neston)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will publish (a) details of the MHRA's review into the Innova covid-19 lateral flow tests and (b) criteria applied to determine that those tests are satisfactory for use.

Answered by Nadine Dorries

The Department and NHS Test and Trace have taken on the role of legal manufacturer for lateral flow self-tests, which have been given a Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) exceptional use authorisation for the purpose of detection of COVID-19 in asymptomatic individuals as part of the national testing programme. As legal manufacturer, the Department and NHS Test and Trace are required to have a Quality Management System (QMS) in place. The QMS is separate to that of the Innova Medical Group in the United States of America (USA) and ensures that tests being used in the United Kingdom (UK) are subject to appropriate controls.

After the US Food and Drug Association safety notice was issued on 10 June, MHRA asked the Department and NHS Test and Trace to investigate whether the UK could be affected by any of the concerns raised. MHRA were satisfied of the limited applicability of the FDA’s actions in the USA to the products supplied in the UK by the Department and NHS Test and Trace and their proposed actions to mitigate risks from these issues.

The Department published information and data on the performance of lateral flow tests in the UK which can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/lateral-flow-device-performance-data


Written Question
Coronavirus: Screening
8 Sep 2021

Questioner: Rachael Maskell (LAB - York Central)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, which organisations, sectors and businesses are involved in the Government's covid-19 daily contact testing study; and when each of those bodies commenced their involvement in that study.

Answered by Jo Churchill

The following organisations have been participating in the workplaces Daily Contact Testing pilot evaluation scheme since March 2021:

- John Lewis;

- Jaguar Land Rover;

- Primula (Kavli);

- Northumbria Water;

- Oxford Biomedica;

- Greencore;

- Co-op - Castlewood;

- British Steel;

- Longley Farm;

- Agrial Fresh Produce;

- Pilgrim’s;

- Moy Park;

- AB Foods Silver Spoon;

- Danish Crown Pork;

- Apetito;

- Network Rail;

- Transport for London;

- London Heathrow; and

- Border Force.

In May 2021 Cabinet Office – Building 5 was enrolled in the scheme. There has also been a secondary schools and colleges daily contact testing clinical study, trialling assisted on-site testing. This was a randomised control trial, sponsored by the Department and Public Health England.


Written Question
Coronavirus: Quarantine and Screening
7 Sep 2021

Questioner: Julian Sturdy (CON - York Outer)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential impact on young adults of covid-19 testing and isolation requirements during stage 4 of the covid-19 roadmap from 19 July 2021; and what assessment his Department has made of the potential impact on young adults of back-to-back self-isolation periods.

Answered by Jo Churchill

No assessment has been made regarding the specific impacts in question. However, assessments of the broader impact of the self-isolation requirements have been made for all age groups, including young adults. We recognise that young adults’ educational, social, and by extension health outcomes are highly impacted by self-isolation.


Written Question
Coronavirus: Screening
6 Sep 2021

Questioner: Rachael Maskell (LAB - York Central)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has undertaken sensitivity testing of the Innova SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Qualitative Test when the test is used according to the instructions set out in the guide published by his Department and NHS Test and Trace entitled Your step-by-step guide for Covid-19 self testing.

Answered by Jo Churchill

The Department has undertaken sensitivity testing of the Innova SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Qualitative Test when the test is used according to the instructions set out in the guide published by the Department and NHS Test and Trace, entitled ‘Your step-by-step guide for COVID-19 self-testing’. The results are available at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/999866/asymptomatic-testing-for-SARS-CoV-2-using-antigen-detecting-lateral-flow-devices-evidence-from-performance-data-Oct-2020-to-May-2021.pdf

Devices are also tested for robustness, usability and evidence of cross-reactivity with seasonal coronaviruses.

Post-marketing surveillance is performed on approved devices at regular intervals to ensure they remain fit for purpose against new variants.


Written Question
Coronavirus: Screening
6 Sep 2021

Questioner: Julian Sturdy (CON - York Outer)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of extending covid-19 daily contact testing to workers and workplaces outside of the critical sectors already identified by the Government instead of requiring people to self-isolate.

Answered by Jo Churchill

We are currently reviewing the potential merits of extending workplace daily contact testing to additional sites outside of the critical sectors already identified by the Government. Our initial focus is on completing the extension of the workplace daily contact testing scheme to 2,000 sites, as announced on 26 July. As of 16 August, contacts who are fully vaccinated do not have to self-isolate, but daily contact testing will continue in approved sites for contacts who are not yet fully vaccinated.


Written Question
Coronavirus: Screening
6 Sep 2021

Questioner: Paul Blomfield (LAB - Sheffield Central)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 21 July 2021 to Question 10360 on Travel: Coronavirus, how many covid-19 testing providers have (a) received a five-day warning and (b) been removed from the list of providers on GOV.UK as a result of poor test turnaround times.

Answered by Jo Churchill

Due to commercial sensitivities, the Department does not publish the specific reasons for organisations being removed from the GOV.UK listing. In the last two weeks, 57 COVID-19 test providers have been removed from the GOV.UK listing and a further 84 have been issued with a warning.


Written Question
Coronavirus: Screening
6 Sep 2021

Questioner: Alan Campbell (LAB - Tynemouth)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to make day two PCR tests (a) cheaper and (b) a standardised cost across all providers.

Answered by Jo Churchill

Since requirements were introduced for international travel testing, the costs of travel testing have fallen significantly. We have invited the Competition and Markets Authority to conduct a review into pricing and standards in the market for international travel tests.

The Government has announced there will be a rapid internal review of the pricing and service standards of all providers of day two and day eight tests. It has also been announced that the cost of NHS Test and Trace tests for international arrivals has been reduced from £88 to £68 for green list arrivals or fully vaccinated amber list arrivals and from £170 to £136 for two tests for amber list arrivals who are not fully vaccinated.


Written Question
Coronavirus: Screening
6 Sep 2021

Questioner: Andy Slaughter (LAB - Hammersmith)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent estimate he has made of the cost to the NHS of each covid-19 PCR test (a) administered at a testing centre or other NHS setting, (b) self-administered at home and (c) overall.

Answered by Jo Churchill

The cost to the NHS Test and Trace (NHSTT) of each COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test varies with a few factors including which lab the sample is processed at and releasing this information would disadvantage us in contract negotiations with current and new suppliers.

The National Health Service budget has not funded PCR testing. PCR testing is provided by the NHS Test and Trace team using a separate budget administered through the Department. The breakdown of the audited NHS Test and Trace expenditure for the 2020/2021 financial year will be published as part of the Department’s 2020-21 Annual Report and Accounts.


Written Question
Coronavirus: Screening
6 Sep 2021

Questioner: Emma Hardy (LAB - Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made to the potential merits of T-Cell Immunity tests in informing a person's individual immunity to covid-19.

Answered by Jo Churchill

T-cell tests are utilised in specific groups for clinical or research purposes including the Protective Immunity from T-Cells in Healthcare workers, the Vivaldi study in Adult Social Care home residents and staff, and in clinically assessing those who may be immunocompromised. Work is ongoing to compare, contrast and standardise cellular assays for larger scale screening.