Preet Kaur Gill, MP for Birmingham Edgbaston, has criticised the Government for their plans to charge the public for the use of Lateral Flow Tests.
From 1 April, the Government will introduce a fee for members of the public to take a Lateral Flow Test. Preet Kaur Gill MP has argued that these fees will impact vulnerable residents and those with loved ones in care homes most.
Preet Kaur Gill MP said, “This is yet another instance where the Government is all about the headlines but light on detail. The Government is asking the public to pay for lateral flow tests from 1 April, but this is just the wrong timing. While we won’t need free lateral flow tests on a long-term basis, we are once again seeing a sharp rise in cases.
“By asking the public to pay for tests, this cost will hit hardest those who are medically vulnerable and people who have family members in care homes. This pandemic has already ravaged our care homes thanks to this Government’s dither and delay. We shouldn’t now be asking families that have been through enough, to pay simply to see their loved ones.”
Visiting arrangements in care homes have sought to prioritise the health, safety and wellbeing of patients and staff. The impact of these measures has been widely felt with thousands of families unable to see their loved ones, affecting the physical and mental health of residents. Lateral Flow Tests have enabled some of these stringent measures to be lightened. Since the Government’s announcement, Preet has had many constituents write to her asking that the Government delays in introducing this extra cost at a time when the cost of living is skyrocketing.
Preet continued, “I have residents telling me how with energy and fuel cost rising, they are struggling to put food on the table. To then have an added cost for lateral flow tests will have a huge impact on whether families can afford to visit elderly and vulnerable relatives. It’s a disgrace.”
For the 11,960 people living with dementia in Birmingham, free lateral flow device (LFD) tests are particularly important.
One such resident was Celia Moore in Edgbaston who regularly visits her mum who is living in elderly living accommodation and is suffering from dementia. Ms Moore said:
“Lateral flow tests are an absolutely vital part in keeping my Mum safe. A local chemist has recently announced that a pack of five LFD tests will cost £12, meaning that to visit my loved one on a daily basis, I’d face a monthly cost of £73. When these visits are priceless for both of us, it’s wrong that I should have to pay just to visit my Mum.
“The Prime Minister has said that the focus must remain on protecting the most vulnerable in our society. Yet, care home residents have had to bear the brunt of the pandemic, particularly in its early stages. The discharge of thousands of hospital patients to care homes, mostly without testing, led to significant infection rates and huge numbers of premature deaths. Without free testing for care home visitors, the Government is at risk of repeating its dangerous mistakes.”