Test­ing goal was only hit by ‘buff­ing the sys­tem’

Metro (UK) - - NEWS - By DO­MINIC YEAT­MAN

DES­PER­A­TION to hit test­ing tar­gets led to dodgy fig­ures, re­sults be­ing ‘hand­cranked’ on pa­per, and one un­named min­is­ter per­son­ally phon­ing around for fig­ures, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion has found.

Test­ing kits were posted off to en­sure the key tar­get of 100,000 tests a day by May 1 was met, but more than half were never re­turned, Sky News re­ported.

At the time, health sec­re­tary Matt Han­cock (pic­tured) de­clared the gov­ern­ment had hit that ‘au­da­cious’ tar­get, but as one of­fi­cial told the chan­nel, the re­al­ity was quite dif­fer­ent. ‘We com­pletely buffed the sys­tem,’ they re­vealed. ‘We said, “For­get the con­ven­tions, we’re putting this data out”.’

The rev­e­la­tions came as the of­fi­cial death toll rose by 85 to 44,602, and fig­ures showed Boris John­son failed in his pledge to process all tests within 24 hours by the end of June, with just 55 per cent hitting the tar­get.

An early de­ci­sion to process tests only in gov­ern­ment lab­o­ra­to­ries – ig­nor­ing of­fers of help from hospi­tals – left Bri­tain play­ing catch-up with the rest of the

world. ‘It was a risk,’ said a gov­ern­ment source. ‘We bet on red and it came up black. The Ger­mans had lots of ma­chines and a sys­tem in place. We had next to noth­ing.’

A se­nior de­part­ment for health fig­ure ad­mit­ted: ‘We were com­mit­ted to pub­lish­ing data on a daily ba­sis. None of it was prop­erly au­dited. You can’t throw up a new sys­tem in weeks and ex­pect it to be per­fect.’ Mean­while, the PM’s spokesman yes­ter­day ad­mit­ted ‘we need to do more’ on test re­sults as it emerged 1.4mil­lion out of 4mil­lion sent in the post have been pro­cessed. He said the gov­ern­ment would try to hit the tar­get ‘as soon as we pos­si­bly can’.

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