Just 1.8% of home coronavirus test results returned in 24 hours as PM misses target

Figures for the week ending July 1 show result speeds are increasing overall, despite them being down for home tests. Credit: PA

Boris Johnson has missed his target of all coronavirus test results being returned within 24 hours of the test taking place, with just 1.8% of home tests achieving the goal in the most recent week.

The prime minister's ambition was for all coronavirus test results to be returned by the end of June, however the latest figures from the Department for Health and Social Care show the government is well short of that target.

Just 1.8% of people who took a coronavirus test using a home test kit have received their result within 24 hours, new figures for the week ending July 1 have shown.

The proportion of people who received the result of their home test within 24 hours is slightly down from 2.2% in the previous week.

When combining the figures for all methods of community testing – home test kits, regional test sites, mobile testing units and “satellite” test centres – a total of 54.9% of people received their results within 24 hours in the week ending July 1, up from 41.3% in the previous week.

The government wants test results to be returned as quickly as possible. Credit: PA

Last month the prime minister told MPs in the Commons: "To get all tests turned around within 24 hours by the end of June, except for difficulties with postal tests or insuperable problems like that”.

The 24 hour target is essential for NHS tracers to get hold of contacts before they start passing on the virus.

Mr Johnson's spokesman says the PM wants to achieve the target of all non-postal test results within 24 hours “as soon as we possibly can” after missing his end-of-June deadline.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We have made significant progress. You can now see 97.5% of in-person test results being returned within the next day after a test is taken and 91% of in-person tests taken at the regional test sites and mobile testing units returned within 24 hours.”

But “we need to do more”, the spokesman said.

“We want to continue to make progress and to achieve that as soon as we possibly can.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said transparency about testing would essential for restarting the economy, saying consumers need confidence in the testing and tracing system before they go out.

"We haven't had the number of people being tested every day published for over a month. This has got to be cleared up. It's so important to confidence.

"This just isn't about the numbers; do the public have confidence in the system is critical to the economy.

"Food vouchers to eat out will only work if people have confidence."

A total of 68.9% of people received their result between 24 and 48 hours after taking the test, up from 55.1% in the previous week.

Some 23.0% waited between 48 and 72 hours for their result (down from 35.2% in the previous week) and 6.2% had to wait more than 72 hours (down from 7.4%).

Across the five-week period of Test and Trace, just 1.4% of people using a home test kit received their result within 24 hours, 32.2% between 24 and 48 hours, 52.1% between 48 and 72 hours, and 14.1% after 72 hours.

Dido Harding, Chair of NHS Test and Trace, said she is "committed to continually improving NHS Test and Trace".

"This week we have seen test turnaround times improve further, with the majority of positive cases reached by contact tracers in under 24 hours."

In the week ending July 1, some 34.9% of people waited between 24 and 48 hours (down from 44.6%), 7.5% waited between 48 and 72 hours (down from 10.6%) and 1.8% waited longer than 72 hours (down from 2.5%).

For tests taken at regional test sites, which includes drive-through and walk-through testing centres, 91.8% of people received their result within 24 hours in the week ending July 1, up from 70.2% in the previous week.

Dido Harding, speaking alongside Matt Hancock at a government press conference, is leading the UK's testing and tracing effort. Credit: PA

For tests taken at mobile testing units – which test essential workers at sites including care homes, police stations and prisons – 89.6% of people received their result within 24 hours, up from 57.6%.

And for tests undertaken at “satellite” test centres at places like hospitals or care homes, 25.7% of people received their result within 24 hours, up slightly on 24.6%.

Ms Harding urged "anyone contacted by NHS Test and Trace to follow the advice they receive to protect their families and communities".

She added: "Anyone with symptoms can easily book a test, expect rapid results, and will hear promptly from NHS Test and Trace if they are tested positive."