Oxford pharmacists were left with inconsistent supplies of lateral flow tests

Pharmacies in Oxford have been left without Covid-19 tests due to inconsistent deliveries as the self-isolation period has been cut back and Boris Johnson is urging people to get a test before New Year’s Eve.

Lateral flow tests, which return a fast Covid-19 result, can be picked up from pharmacies, some community hubs and ordered for home delivery from Gov.uk.

Staff at some pharmacies in the city told the Oxford Mail that they have been left without supplies of lateral flow tests for “weeks”, while the availability of tests on the government’s website has changed from hour to hour.

The controversy comes, Professor Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, supported the government’s decision not to impose new Covid restrictions before the New Year and called the public “fairly responsible”.

Last week, the government announced that people could stop isolating themselves after seven days if they get two negative lateral flow test results. On Wednesday, the Press Association reported that Mr Johnson said: “I think everyone should enjoy the New Year, but in a careful and sensible way.

“Take a test, ventilate, think of others – but above all, get a booster.”

Oxford Mail: The availability of tests has been inconsistent on the Gov.uk websiteThe availability of tests has been inconsistent on the Gov.uk website

An employee at Boots in Cornmarket explained that it was “possible” that the problems were due to more people ordering tests, adding that the store has been sold out for two to three weeks.

They said: “We have not had any today, our deliveries have been quite random.”

A pharmacist at Barton Pharmacy in Headington said they had not “got a clue” when the tests would be delivered and that the store had had “none at all since December 24”.

Both Jhoots on Walton Street, Jericho and The Roundway Pharmacy in Headington blamed the companies supplying the tests for the lack of stock.

An employee at The Roundway said tests had been “completely sold out” for about a week and a half.

Readers also talked about the inconsistency in test supplies.

On Facebook, a number of readers said they “had no problem” ordering tests for home delivery, while others said they were unable to get them either online or from pharmacies.

Verity Mills-Davies said there is a ‘sold out’ sign everywhere, while Emma Rowlands described ‘struggling’ to get a test.

She said: “No one available online for delivery, and when I instead got a pickup code today, the pharmacy had no one in stock!”

Oxford Mail: A lateral flow test is being used.  Image: PA ImagesA lateral flow test is used. Image: PA Images

Dr. Leyla Hannbeck, executive director of the Association Of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, says the lack of consistent supplies puts pharmacists in a difficult situation.

Dr. Hannbeck said: “On the one hand, the government is asking us to comply with the guidelines, and on the other hand, there is not enough supply to go around.”

A spokesman for Roche, which manufactures Covid-19 tests, said Oxford Mail demand has “increased sharply” recently, but the company has responded “immediately” and “continues to increase production so that current demand can met “.

A Boots spokesman said: “Boots is providing access to the COVID-19 Lateral Flow Device test kit on behalf of the NHS.

“We are able to order more inventory from the NHS each day and therefore rebuild regularly, but due to high demand during the holiday season, some stores will run out before the end of the day.

“The NHS website lists the nearest pharmacy that offers lateral flow tests for your location.”

Oxford Mail has approached the NHS and UK Health Security Agency for comment.

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