Government-listed Covid-19 test supplier criticised for ‘shambolic appalling’ service

Coronavirus – Sun Feb 14, 2021 Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

A government-listed Covid test supplier has been slammed for "appalling" service after quarantined travellers were left waiting several days for their test kits to arrive.

East Yorkshire-based Latus Health has been accused of "failing to deliver the most basic service," with customers claiming they received their £175 coronavirus tests late - potentially delaying their exit from quarantine.

The healthcare firm, which is listed as a test provider on the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) website, said there had been “some delays” with Royal Mail and that it pays for a 24-hour next day delivery service.

Some 70 people have joined a Facebook group to complain about the firm, with some claiming their test arrived a week late along with further delays in getting results.

Customers said they paid Latus Health £175 for a Covid-19 test Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA

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.

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.

But 13 days on, they are still waiting for the results of the day eight test, which itself arrived 24-hours late, she said.

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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.

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.

Latus Health’s website said it aims to provide results within 48 hours of a lab receiving a sample Credit: Peter Byrne/PA

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.

Passengers arriving into the UK from overseas have to quarantine for 10 days Credit: Jacob King/PA

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.

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.

Mr Latus said he "didn't realise" the number was a premium line.

"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.

Members of the National Ambulance Service at a walk-in test centre on the grounds of Grangegorman Primary Care Centre in Dublin. Credit: PA

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."

Credit: PA

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."