Leyla Hannbeck said the scale of the problem is “huge” thanks to current guidelines around testing while demand is soaring, the supply of tests has been “inconsistent”
Pharmacies are reporting ‘patchy’ lateral flow test supplies with people reportedly being turned away every 5 minutes, according to the chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies.
Leyla Hannbeck said the scale of the problem is “huge” thanks to current guidelines around Covid testing while demand is soaring, the supply of tests has been “inconsistent”.
Speaking to the BBC’s Today Programme, she said: “What our members are telling us is that demand for the lateral flow tests is very high at the moment due to the current guidelines around self-isolation.
“Pharmacies are reporting that every five minutes, approximately, somebody comes into the pharmacy asking for a test.
“But, unfortunately, because of the issues around supply being patchy and inconsistent, it means that those who come for the test don’t always get it, which is very stressful not just for the pharmacy team but for the patient.
“The scale of the problem is huge because the demand is high, because of the current guidelines.
“People are doing the responsible thing by wanting to be tested and we are in the Christmas area of time, and the New Year is just around the corner and people want to be with family and friends.”
Chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies Leyla Hannbeck has said the current daily supply of almost 900,000 lateral flow tests is not enough to meet demand and urged the Government to improve the consistency of deliveries.
She told the BBC’s Today Programme: “It just simply isn’t enough to meet the demand and it’s patchy.
“Some days you get one box delivered and other days none. It isn’t enough for the pharmacies to deliver to the patients.”
“We want to make sure that the message is clear to the Government that the supply needs to be consistent,” she added.
“People can get it easily from pharmacies if the supply is consistent.”
The UK Health Security Agency has said there are now nearly 900,000 test kits being supplied per day – which is double the delivery capacity seen before December 18.
Work and Pensions minister Chloe Smith said people should “persevere” in their efforts to secure Covid tests amid reports of patchy supply.
She told BBC Breakfast: “Of course, what we’re seeing is increased demand for testing, which is good and sensible because that’s part of people having been cautious, I think, and being sensible around Christmas and around New Year. So, we’re seeing spikes of demand.
“What we’ve done in response to that then is double the delivery capacity – so we’ve taken action to make sure that people can get testing kits delivered to them at home. An additional method to that, of course, is going to a pharmacy.
“I quite understand that people will be wanting to make sure that the testing kits are there – that follows on from people having been doing the right thing in being cautious and in wanting to be tested, perhaps before big events or family gatherings.
“What I would say is to please persevere with either making use of your friendly local pharmacy or using the delivery method on the Gov.uk website.
“Even whilst there have been periods of great demand on that, and every so often we’ve had to replenish the means behind the scenes there, that is happening and the delivery is occurring.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.