Private health firms have come under severe criticism for profiting from the coronavirus pandemic by selling thousands of home testing kits for up to £375 each – while frontline NHS workers are experiencing a shortage.

One London Harley Street clinic is offering next day delivery of the test for £375.  And, according to The Guardian, a chain of private clinics in the Midlands has increased the cost of its home delivery coronavirus testing kit from £149 to £249 in just a matter of days.

It is also understood by the Daily Mirror that more than 2,000 celebrities, as well as members of the nobility and Britain's business elite have bought the home kits, from Harley Street or elsewhere, to check if they have disease.

It comes amid growing concern that NHS workers are not getting access to tests, with some forced into isolation for up to 14 days if someone in their household is showing symptoms – meaning they will not be able to work and treat patients.

According to the BBC’s health correspondent Nick Triggle, the UK has the capacity to test around 5,000 people a day, compared to South Korea who have the capacity to test 40,000 a day. 

Hilary Jones, Good Morning Britain’s resident doctor said on air that firms selling private kits for hundreds of pounds “disgusts” him. 

He added: “First of all, we don’t know if [the test] is accurate. If it is accurate, then why should some people be able to buy it while we’ve got frontline healthcare staff not being able to get it?”

In addition, the NHS is also not getting the equipment it desperately needs to protect its frontline staff from the virus.

Commenting on this, Jonathan Ashworth, shadow secretary of health, tweeted: “Our NHS staff are battling to protect us, the government must protect them. From goggles, gowns, gloves, masks and thermometers we need adequate personal protective equipment for all staff across secondary & primary care. Testing must be scaled up urgently for staff.”


Date published: March 20, 2020

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