Lateral flow test shortage leaving Halifax people unable to work and one woman struggling to get to a funeral

The huge shortage of Covid-19 tests has left some Halifax residents unable to work and one even facing being unable to say goodbye to a loved one.

By sarah fitton
Tuesday, 4th January 2022, 3:37 pm
Manager of Sandbeds Pharmacy in Pellon Hassan Riaz

Pharmacists in the town say their phones have been ringing non-stop and footfall has increased ten-fold as people try desperately to get hold of lateral flow tests.

The last two weeks have seen people across the country struggling to get hold of the tests amidst a steep rise in cases driven by the Omicron variant and the guidance to test more frequently and before mixing with friends and family over Christmas and New Year.

Hassan Riaz, Manager at Sandbeds Pharmacy in Pellon, said he has had people coming in desperate for tests because without them, they can not go to work.

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He also had a woman get in touch who had been told she needed to provide proof of a negative lateral flow test before attending a funeral, but could not get hold of a test.

"I've had people coming in to our pharmacy who said they have been trying every pharmacy in Calderdale and no one had any," he said.

He said there is only one supplier providing pharmacies across the country with tests.

His pharmacy has not had a delivery since Christmas Eve, and those tests were gone within half an hour of arriving.

Pharmacies are able to apply for one batch of kits to be delivered a day, each containing around 54 boxes of seven tests.

But Amanda Smith, Manager at Heath Pharmacy in Savile Park, said there is no guarantee they will secure any, as tests are dispatched on a first come, first served basis.

"It's just a nightmare at the moment," she said.

"We've even had staff from the hospital coming in trying to see if we have any tests as they need them to be able to work and have been told to try the local pharmacies."

Hassan said his team have seen a lot of frustration from customers who have logged onto the Government website to order tests and secured a code along with a list of pharmacies that can hand out the tests.

He says it is not clear on the site that the code and list of pharmacies does not mean those locations have any tests in stock, or that the code means any tests have been reserved.

"Some people are coming in and getting quite angry," he said.

"We're doing our best to help people wherever we can."

Amanda echoed Hassan's experiences of people expecting to be able to get tests because the website had given them a code and listed their pharmacy as an option to pick up a box.

"When we do get a delivery of tests, they're gone within an hour and a half," she said.