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Dad blasts NHS Test and Trace after lab error gives wrong positive Covid-19 result

A father who whose daughter was wrongly told she had coronavirus after a laboratory error with NHS Test and Trace has blasted the system, calling it 'straight from the Dad's Army frontline.'

Duncan Larcombe, from Aylesford, near Maidstone, and his family, had to self-isolate after his 14-year-old daughter was one of more than 1,300 people across the UK given the false positive result.

Dunan Larcombe, inset, fears a testing error fed into decisions over the tier system
Dunan Larcombe, inset, fears a testing error fed into decisions over the tier system

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said 1,311 people who took a test between November 19-23 were incorrectly told they had Covid-19.

It said there was an issue with a batch of testing chemicals which meant their results were void and 'swift action' was taken to notify them.

Mr Larcombe, a PR company director, said his eldest child was advised to get tested after several coronavirus cases were identified at her school.

He said: "She took it very seriously and stayed in her room all day, only coming out to pick up a tray of food left for her.

"We all took it seriously too and self isolated. We are across two households (with my ex wife) so it affected several people and we also got the phone call from Test and Trace checking up on our movements."

Duncan Larcombe believes the testing system is akin to the 'Dad's Army' frontlinePicture: BBC
Duncan Larcombe believes the testing system is akin to the 'Dad's Army' frontlinePicture: BBC

The notification his daughter's test was void came this week and on Friday a further test came back negative.

Mr Larcombe, who said his daughter preferred not to be named, said: "The issue goes beyond our inconvenience as this is Covid and everyone wants to do the right thing.

"Health secretary, Matt Hancock, said we had a world class Test and Trace system back in June, but this hasn't been 'world class.' It has been more 'frontline from Dad's Army.'

"We are all told how serious coronavirus is, so how could the wrong chemical be introduced in the process of confirming the tests? And what if it was the other way around - people who thought they were negative actually being positive? What then?"

This week there has been fury from MPs and the public about Kent emerging from lockdown in Tier 3 - the strictest level imposing bans on separate households being able to meet, with hospitality venues forced to shut.

A Covid-19 test site in Ashford
A Covid-19 test site in Ashford

Mr Larcombe, a former Royal Editor at The Sun, added: "It was one thing to find out my child had the wrong result, but then to find out this happened to more than 1,000 people is astonishing.

"Tier 3 for Kent is just a lockdown by a different name. Over the last few weeks, Kent was in Tier one, then we had full lockdown, now we're facing Tier 3 restrictions.

"We got to that point by test results being fed into a modelling system - a model which has destroyed businesses and the economy.

"And now we find out so many of those tests were wrong. There shouldn't be any room for mistakes.

"I do feel quite strongly about this. We are being asked to trust our politicians and science like never before."

A DHSC spokesman said: “This laboratory error was an isolated incident and is being fully investigated to ensure this does not happen again.”

It did not comment on whether the error affected regional figures of infection rates.

Test and Trace has been beset with issues, with figures earlier this week revealing about four in 10 contacts of those who test positive for the virus are still not being reached.

The Prime Minister announced an extra £7 billion for Test and Trace in his winter plan on Monday in a bid to increase testing and improve contact tracing.

It takes the overall funding provided for Test and Trace this financial year to £22 billion – nearly a fifth of the entire annual NHS budget – which has been met with some criticism.

But Boris Johnson was adamant the system provided “value” for money although admitted there had been “teething problems”.

Latest NHS figures released today show a further 289 people, who tested positive for Coronavirus have died, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in England to 40,197.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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