People are waiting longer for the results of their coronavirus tests to be processed, official figures have shown.
The proportion of in-person Covid-19 test results returned within 24 hours in the week to September 9 is 33.3% – the lowest since the week to June 17, when the figure stood at 31.3%.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had pledged that, by the end of June, the results of all in-person tests would be back within 24 hours.
He told the House of Commons on June 3 he would get “all tests turned around within 24 hours by the end of June, except for difficulties with postal tests or insuperable problems like that”.
Meanwhile, just 1.9% of people in England who used a home test kit for Covid-19 received their result within 24 hours in the week to September 9.
This is the lowest percentage since Test and Trace was launched at the end of May.
Some 9.3% of people received the result of a home test within 48 hours. This is the lowest percentage since the week to June 10, when the figure stood at 9.1%.
Since the launch of Test and Trace, 339,438 close contacts of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 have now been reached through the tracing system and asked to self-isolate.
This is 78.1% out of a total of 434,612 people identified as close contacts.
The remaining 95,174 people (21.9%) were identified as close contacts, but were not reached.
A total of 18,371 new people tested positive for Covid-19 in England in the week to September 9, according to the latest Test and Trace figures.
This is an increase of 75% in positive cases on the previous week, and is the highest weekly number since Test and Trace was launched at the end of May. Some 73.9% of close contacts of people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England were reached through the Test and Trace system in the week ending September 9, according to new figures from the Department of Health and Social Care.
This is up from 69.5% in the previous week, but below the 77.2% reached in the week to August 19.
For cases handled by local health protection teams, 98.9% of contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate in the week to September 9.
For cases handled either online or by call centres, 63.7% of close contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate.
In response to these figures, Dr Layla McCay, director at the NHS Confederation, said the spread of Covid-19 was not being controlled.
She said: “It appears we are now in a position where the spread of the virus is no longer being adequately controlled, with new cases nearly tripling compared with the end of August. This is especially alarming at a time when winter is almost upon us, and access to testing has become a major problem, including for frontline staff.”
Dr McCay added: “As it stands, many people cannot access tests at all, and those who can are having to wait longer for the results, or travel long distances to get tested in the first place.
“That includes health and care staff, which could jeopardise the ability to restore services and keep up with Covid-19 treatment. We must also avoid a situation where either A&E departments or GP surgeries are overwhelmed with people seeking tests.”
She said that as demand for testing looked set to rise, it was “absolutely vital” the Government made test and trace efforts a “top priority”, particularly for healthcare staff.
“It now appears that a second surge may already be under way and we know an effective test and trace system is key to reducing the risk of the virus spreading,” she said. “It is concerning that this system seems to be faltering under predictable pressure.”