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RCS England President's statement on coronavirus testing

17 Sep 2020

Responding to reports that there have been problems with NHS staff and patients accessing tests for coronavirus, Professor Neil Mortensen, President of the RCS England, said:


“We welcome the Secretary of State’s comments [1] on the need to prioritise testing according to the greatest need - acute clinical care. Surgery is getting going again now across the country. For it to continue safely, it is essential that surgical teams and their patients continue to have access to speedy and accurate tests.  However, in recent days we have been hearing of operations being cancelled at the last minute because it was impossible to get a test, either for the patient, or for a member of the surgical team. 


“Now that the schools are back, a further issue is surgeons having to stay home because they cannot get a test to establish their children’s illness is not COVID-related. It is essential that NHS staff and their families have priority access to testing, because patient care depends on that. Surgery is a team effort.  It only takes one person in the surgical team having to stay at home, and well-laid plans come tumbling down like a house of cards. Staff access to testing is therefore absolutely critical to the health and wellbeing of the country.”



Notes to editors

[1] Mr Hancock’s comments in the Commons on Tuesday:

The Royal College of Surgeons of England is a professional membership organisation and registered charity, which exists to advance surgical standards and improve patient care.

For more information, please contact the RCS Press Office:

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