PCR travel test uproar with thousands of results ‘unregistered’ as system struggles

Holidaymakers are said to be wasting hundreds of pounds with thousands of PCR test results not being forwarded to the UK Government with the system in ‘disarray.’

Reports state that up to 150,000 results from Amber List passengers have not been followed up because testing providers failed to pass on data from holidaymakers.

According to newspaper reports, more than 40 per cent of results from 350,000 tests each week have not been registered despite holidaymakers being forced to pay for the costly checks.

The worrying data was revealed by former British Airways’ chief strategist Robert Boyle who claimed the number of “unregistered” test results rose from 15 per cent in June to 43 per cent in the week of August 4.

He told the Telegraph: “Based on what we have seen from the testing data, I think we can add data management as another area where the system is failing dismally and seems to be in a state of disarray.

“For a system whose primary purpose is to provide decision-makers with high quality intelligence on travellers arriving in the UK, that is a big issue.

“The data are being provided by the traveller in most cases but are disappearing into a test-provider black hole, and is never being passed on to Test and Trace.

Patient samples waiting for PCR testing.
Patient samples waiting for PCR testing (file image)
(Image: PA)

“Despite being promoted on the government’s own website, a lot of [the test providers] look like cowboys to me.”

Travel industry leaders expressed frustration last week when the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced it would report its recommendations around testing “within the next month” following a request by Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

But a CMA spokesman said on Tuesday that the organisation “gave advice to DHSC (Department of Health and Social Care) officials about the PCR testing market in April and we gave further advice to the Secretary of State last week”.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, claimed it was “further evidence” that the Government has been “too slow in reducing the costs of testing, and dragging its feet on the untruths told by some providers”.

He continued: “The delay in dealing with cowboy operators, which continues to this day, is putting off people from travelling and hindering recovery among travel firms.”

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Travellers arriving in the UK require one or two PCR tests, depending on where they have been and their vaccination status. Some can take a third test for a shorter self-isolation period.

Tests must be bought from providers listed on a Government website. Some firms advertise prices as low as £19, but many holidaymakers have complained it is impossible to book tests that cheap.

PCR tests taken at home typically cost around £65, with some private clinics charging approximately £200.

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