Testing goal was only hit by ‘buffing the system’
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’.