Bradford Council has written to the government to request an urgent review after it stopped providing the district with home testing kits to identify coronavirus cases.
The local authority, which covers Keighley and Ilkley, has been providing PCR kits to local residents for the last five months - but has now had to stop. The government says the option is no longer required as people can visit local testing centres instead.
Bradford Council says a range of different testing options are better to meet the 'differing needs and circumstances' of residents - for example those who find it challenging to travel. The council also says door-to-door testing means it can target areas where levels of the virus are persistently high, helping develop an understanding of what is happening in these areas and communities.
Council Leader Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe said: “The Government’s decision has come at a period when Bradford District has climbed to 36th nationally in terms of areas with highest infection rates. It’s absolutely the wrong time for the Government to reduce our capacity to test our residents using the methods we know can work.
“The Council has been offering almost 6,000 door-to-door tests a month. We believe that this offer is fundamental to our testing strategy and enables a targeted approach that cannot be paralleled by alternatives such as the rapid test centres.
“Home testing in areas of high infection is an important way in which we can monitor the spread of the virus, isolate new infections and use track and trace to identify the people those who have been infected have had close contact with.
“Door-to-door testing has been vital in engaging with residents and communities who have been apprehensive about being tested. Through frequent visits and engagement work we have been able to encourage many residents to take a test from home, where they otherwise wouldn’t have had one at all.
“We also use these face-to-face visits as an opportunity to reinforce key messages about COVID, dispel myths and respond to the general concerns of our residents.
“There are also many practical reasons why many of the people we have tested door-to-door cannot visit a rapid test centre regularly. While the centres in Keighley and Bradford are important, it’s just not realistic to think that everyone would make the trip.
“We are therefore writing to the Government to request that they urgently reconsider this decision so that we can continue to deliver a flexible testing strategy that meets the needs of everyone in our district.”
All home testing visits have now been paused until further notice.
For more information on alternative options for testing visit bradford.gov.uk/health/