It was reported on Monday that tests were not available in any of the ten local authorities in England with the worst infection rates, with people told to try again on Tuesday. Bolton currently has the highest infection rate in England.
But speaking to BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker on Tuesday, the Home Secretary said: “Well you’ve already heard me say that tests are available, particularly in local lockdown areas, I’ve seen this myself, I’ve seen the teams that have been working on this.
“Mobile testing is going in, capacity is going into local areas where lockdowns have been undertaken and are taking place.”
She added: “I think it is wrong to say tests are not available, new book-in slots are being made available every single day, mobile testing units are being made available.
“And on top of that home testing kits are being issued across the country but specifically in local lockdown areas.”
LBC reported that people could not get walk-in, drive-through or home tests available in Bolton, Salford, Bradford, Blackburn, Oldham, Preston, Pendle, Rochdale, Tameside or Manchester, which are currently the worst coronavirus hotspots.
Ms Patel admitted it was unacceptable that people have been unable to get tests, adding: “Clearly there is much more work that needs to be undertaken with Public Health England and the actual public health bodies in those particular local areas.
“As a Government we work with Public Health England to surge where there is demand in local hotspot areas and we continue to do that.”
On access to testing, she said the majority of tests are available within a 10-mile radius.
“It seems to me there’ll be extreme cases where people can’t get to test locations within that radius but that doesn’t mean that Public Health England are not working night and day to boost capacity,” she added.
Her comments came after an NHS boss hit out at the Government for not being “open” about testing capacity.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, the membership group for NHS hospitals, told the BBC’s Today programme: “Part of the problem here is that the Government isn’t being as open as trusts would like about how big this problem is, how widespread it is, and how long it’s going to last. So, it’s difficult to get full information.”
Referring to general NHS activity, he added: “We have now got cases where patients who should be being treated, we can’t treat them because they can’t get access to a test. So, for them that’s a real problem.”