UK News Government-listed Covid test supplier criticised for ‘appalling’ service
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Dozens of complaints have been made against a Covid-19 test supplier after quarantined travellers were left waiting several days for a kit to arrive.
East Yorkshire-based Latus Health has been accused of providing an “appalling” service, with customers claiming they received their £175 coronavirus tests late – potentially delaying their exit from quarantine.
The healthcare firm, which is on the Government’s official list of test suppliers, said there had been “some delays” with Royal Mail and that it pays for a 24-hour next day delivery service.
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Travel expert Gilbert Ott, who runs the flight tips site God Save The Points, said in 2020 and 2021 he flew to New York (twice), Santorini, Los Angeles and Palm Springs and remained virus-free. The 34-year-old said: 'I have at least 10 tests to my name as proof, across varying periods of time. Each time I stayed in a hotel or Airbnb and observed quarantine and restrictions in each country.
However, some 70 people have joined a Facebook group to complain about the firm, which is listed as a test provider on the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) website.
People returning to the UK from non-red list countries are required to quarantine for 10 days at home and take two Covid-19 tests – one on day two and another on day eight – before they can leave, depending on a negative result.
But customers who have ordered through Latus Health have complained of test kits arriving more than a week late, and further delays in receiving test results.
Joanna Earl, 50, from Wandsworth in south-west London, paid Latus £350 to get tested with her husband after returning to the UK on March 25, having been in France with work.
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But 13 days on, they are still waiting for the results of the day eight test, which itself arrived 24-hours late, she said.
Mrs Earl told the PA news agency: “What incenses me, is that the Government has done such a good job with the vaccination programme, yet this whole mandatory testing process is shambolic because I’m beyond words they can mandate and authorise a company on their website that fails to deliver even the most basic service.
“You can’t get through to anyone (at Latus), you can’t speak to anyone, and you don’t get any responses, they seem to just pass the buck.
“For me, their service is appalling and utterly inefficient. ”
Mrs Earl, whose day two test results only came on day six, said she had only managed to speak to someone from Latus Health once – but only after an hour’s wait on a premium rate number.
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Of the around 20,000 people arriving in the country every day, around 40 percent - or 8,000 - are tourists, figures compiled by British Border Force staff revealed.Of the around 20,000 people arriving in the country every day, some 40 percent - or 8,000 - are tourists, figures compiled by Border Force staff revealed.
Others on the Latus Health Covid Test Complaints Facebook page, which was created on April 2, said they had been unable to get through to the firm.
Jack Latus, managing director of Latus Health, said on Wednesday afternoon that all orders that were due for dispatch have now been sent for delivery.
He told PA: “Pre-bank holiday delivery delays can be for a number of reasons, with the main two being delays in delivery service due to pandemic situation.
“We pay for a 24-hour next-day delivery service – we can’t do much more than that.
“The second is incorrect user input of a delivery address during the booking which means a test kit gets returned to sender and we have to resend to a corrected address.”
Mr Latus said there had been “some delays” with Royal Mail and that other test providers were having similar issues.
He added that more than 95% of deliveries over the past 12 months were on time.
Latus Health, which is based in Melton, near Hull, sends out 3,000 tests each day and aims to provide results “within 48 hours” of a laboratory receiving a sample, according to its website.
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Innova Medical Group was founded last March by Pasaca Capital, chaired by Chinese businessman Charles Huang who was born in Wuhan - the city at the epicentre of the pandemic. Innova's 'primary' factory for making coronavirus swabs is in Xiamen in Fujian. It also has three production facilities in the US, and is planning to expand to the UK. The pharmaceutical's swabs will inevitably used as part of Boris Johnson's pledge to offer every adult in Britain two tests a week from Friday.
In regard to customers experiencing long wait times while trying to call the company, Mr Latus said: “We did receive some feedback that the call lines were costing customers who were having to hold.
“We didn’t realise it was a premium line as it is a number we have used for customer care for over a year and not had any issues, albeit when call volumes were lower.”
He said the firm have since stopped using the premium line and invested in a new “ticketing system” which will launch this week.
One woman from Fulham, who did not want to be named, said she had been left waiting for eight days before her first test arrived in the post.
Meanwhile, a 61-year-old professor, who arrived in London on Saturday from New York, said she was still waiting on her day two test to arrive.
She told PA: “When I called them (Latus), there was a recording saying the number wasn’t being answered and to email instead.
“I’ve emailed them three times but haven’t received anything but an automated response.
“Test and Trace has been calling me every day and I told them about the situation and they said they knew about it already. They said they had been getting a lot of complaints about that company.”
A DHSC spokesman said: “Tests from all private providers must meet the minimum required standards and are reviewed for safety and quality by the independent United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).
“The list of private test suppliers is continually updated to ensure they meet the required standards. We carefully monitor any issues raised by the public about private tests and take action where necessary.”
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “We are working hard to maintain as normal a service as possible across the UK, although we may at times experience higher levels of Covid-related absences in some areas. Regrettably, this can impact the delivery times for mail items in those regions.”
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