COVID-19 testing in Lincolnshire is currently “under-utilised,” health bosses have confirmed as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced increased targets and £3billion extra funding for the NHS today.
The PM announced the measures in a press conference today where he also said that from August 1 employers would be able to bring staff back into workplaces if it was safe to do so.
He also announced an increase in testing capacity to 500,000 a day by the end of October as well as stronger measures to allow councils and ministers more control over local lockdowns.
“It is my strong and sincere hope that we will be able to review the outstanding restrictions and allow a more significant return to normality from November at the earliest – possibly in time for Christmas,” he said.
It is hoped the funding will help ease winter pressures on health services at a time when many leading experts are expecting the number of COVID-19 cases to surge again as people spend more time indoors, with windows closed.
The most recent communtiy testing figures are not available yet, however, health bosses have previously confirmed that between July 1-7, 4,000 Pillar 2 tests had been done through the Lincolnshire Showground, the mobile units and home testing – around 20% of the Showground’s capacity.
40,870 pillar two tests were carried out between April and June 30.
Assistant director of public health Tony McGinty said the county still had a lot of testing capacity.
“We are actually slightly under utilising the capacity that we’ve already got so, pushing us to be able to do more is useful.
“This is partly about preparation for autumn and winter and to keep the test and trace system on track.
“We’re really wanting to find coronavirus, isolate people, and stop it from spreading especially as it becomes clearer and clearer about how important people who have it but don’t have symptoms are in spreading the virus – the more people we test the better.”
Mr McGinty said extra funding was “always really welcome”.
“Especially if we can see a potential problem coming down the line towards us knowing there’s gonna be some extra money and being able to plan to spend it months before we need to have extra services and staff on board is obviously really welcomed it gives us a really good run at being ready,” he said.
He said winter was always busier but having COVID around was going to make it “extra difficult” for the care system to cope.
“Our immune systems tend to dip a bit in the winter, we all spend more time indoors, we’ve got the heating on, the windows closed and we tend to be huddled closer together.
“It all adds up to be easier for whatever bugs are around to move around us and it’s likely that if we see the numbers of cases start to go up, it’ll be then.
“We don’t want to not be ready.”
A United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust spokesman said bosses were awaiting final confirmation on how much the service might receive, but had made no comment at the time of publication.