Revealed: Herts health chief personally intervenes in 90-year-old’s COVID test nightmare

PUBLISHED: 12:02 12 September 2020 | UPDATED: 09:21 14 September 2020

Jim McManus, Hertfordshire's director of public health, had to get involved to ensure a 90-year-old could get a COVID-19 test closer to home. Picture: Archant

Jim McManus, Hertfordshire's director of public health, had to get involved to ensure a 90-year-old could get a COVID-19 test closer to home. Picture: Archant

Archant

Hertfordshire’s public health chief has had to wade into the COVID–19 testing conundrum, personally intervening to ensure a 90-year-old could get a test closer to home.

Jim McManus highlighted the exceptional case at a meeting on Thursday, September 10, when he was questioned about testing capacity in the county.

The elderly gentleman had been directed to a testing centre ‘some way’ from his Hertfordshire home.

But the county’s director of public health Mr McManus said he had personally intervened so he could avoid the long journey.

The news comes as residents from other areas in North Herts suggest they too have struggled to obtain a test – with one Stevenage resident alleging that her nearest test centre was 90 miles away, and another being told to travel to Aberdeen.

Mr McManus said he had known there had been capacity at the centre, and added: “We keep a very close eye on testing issues in Hertfordshire because it’s important to us.”

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At the meeting of the county council’s public health and prevention cabinet panel, Liberal Democrat Cllr Nigel Quinton also raised the issue of COVID-19 testing for residents who did not have access to a car.

He highlighted a resident who could see the Welwyn Garden City testing centre from her home, but was not allowed to be tested there because it is a ‘drive-through’ facility.

Mr McManus told councillors he would like there to be a non-drive through facility in Welwyn Garden City, and he indicated that in some cases transport could be arranged for testing.

During the meeting, Mr McManus accepted there were issues with the testing capacity on the national system. And he said there were local plans to re-launch key worker testing.

Meanwhile it was reported that ‘contacts’ of those who test positive for COVID-19 who cannot be traced within 24 hours by the national ‘Test and Trace’ system are now being dealt with locally.

As a result, in addition to attempting to contact them by phone, there are now local ‘door knocking’ teams, who carry leaflets in English and relevant community languages.

And Mr McManus said they now had a 91 per cent ‘completion’ rate.


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