The government is facing accusations of “fiddling the figures” over its claims on COVID-19 tests after reports that care homes were receiving more kits than they ordered.
The reports have fuelled speculation that the extra supplies are being used to exaggerate the government’s claims for the number of people it has tested.
Gabriel Scally, a member of the Independent Sage committee of scientific and medical experts, told The Guardian the delivery of extra kits appeared to be a deliberate attempt to distort the government’s claims for the number of tests carried out.
Gabriel said: “This appears to be a fiddling of the figures. If, as reported, unnecessary and unrequested sampling kits have been dispatched so that they could be counted as ‘tests’, this is disgraceful and, in my view, verging on the corrupt.”
Nadra Ahmed OBE, executive chair of the National Care Association, confirmed that some providers had received five times the number of test kits requested.
The reports come after the government last week announced it had met its target of offering COVID-19 test to every care home in England.
Labour shadow care minister Liz Kendall disputed the government’s claim to have met its target, arguing the target had been shifted from having all care home staff and residents tested to having tests delivered.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We are not aware that any homes will have received such significant amounts of additional kits.”
The government did concede, however, that care homes could end up with spare kits due to their being delivered in batches of 50.