Government's plan to charge for Covid tests is a 'tax on caring' says Hagley doctor - The Bromsgrove Standard

Government's plan to charge for Covid tests is a 'tax on caring' says Hagley doctor

Bromsgrove Editorial 25th Feb, 2022   0

A HAGLEY doctor who has worked on the frontline during Covid-19 has accused the Government of introducing a ‘tax on caring’ by charging for lateral flow tests (LFTs) from April 1.

Dr David Nicholl, chair of the Bromsgrove Liberal Democrats and the party’s health spokesperson for the West Midlands, claims Bromsgrove residents will need to pay more than £500-a-year to take regular tests so they can safely visit elderly and vulnerable relatives.

He said the latest figures estimated 7,433 people in Bromsgrove will test regularly with 13,167 tests being taken during an average week, amounting to a £3,971,136 collective bill for the district’s residents.

This includes people testing to protect elderly relatives and friends or vulnerable workers in people-facing roles – such as hospitality – who are concerned about their health.

He added the move would particularly concern the 5,295 in Bromsgrove previously identified as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’.

He said the Government’s own scientific advisers on the SAGE committee warned removing free testing would ‘increase anxiety’ and ‘limit social participation outside the home’ of those who were clinically vulnerable or live with someone who is.

Calling on Health Secretary and Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid to rethink the policy, Dr Nicholl said: “He needs to get behind scrapping these plans, to stop Bromsgrove being hit with a cost of living with Covid crisis, and also make the very health inequalities that led to the worst harms of the pandemic even worse.

“Throughout the pandemic, the good people of Bromsgrove have been trying hard to do the right thing and keep others safe.

“The Government should not be making that harder.

“Charging people in Bromsgrove for the tests they need to safely see vulnerable loved ones is a tax on caring, that risks leaving thousands in this area in lockdown by stealth.

“It means vulnerable people in our community will see fewer loved ones and will be able to enjoy less of their lives. It is unfair and unjust.”

His calls are echoed by the Alzheimer’s Society which – labelling the Government’s decision ‘a potentially deadly mistake’ – predicts thousands of people in the West Midlands will face paying £70-a-month to safely visit loved ones living with dementia in care homes.

The charity is so concerned its Chief Executive, Kate Lee, has written to Mr Javid urging an immediate rethink.

It is estimated it costs the Government £2billion-per-month to provide free LFTs.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Throughout the pandemic response we have done everything we can to protect people receiving care and staff and it is vital this continues.

“While the vast majority of people cared for in care homes and at home are vaccinated, the risk of transmission and hospitalisation from Covid-19 remain higher than in the general population so the current protections will remain.

“We continue to review all our Covid-19 measures for adult social care in line with the latest scientific advice, and will provide further details of any changes in due course.”


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