Coronavirus Testing

15th September 2020

Andrew Mitchell questions Government on local testing capacity, childcare and local infection rates.


My right hon. Friend has my sympathy and support as he discharges his duties. He is well aware of the position across the west midlands and, in particular, in the royal town of Sutton Coldfield, where we do have testing difficulties. I am very concerned to hear today that Ley Hill Surgery has no fewer than four GPs who are having to self-isolate and cannot get a test. May I make two points to him? First, I join with those who want an exemption for informal childcare, so that parents in certain circumstances can still go to work. Secondly, I ask him to look at a system whereby all Members of Parliament get access to regular infection rate details both by local government wards and by postcodes?

I am very grateful for my right hon. Friend’s support. I am working very closely with him and with the other Birmingham MPs, because there is a serious challenge in Birmingham and in other parts of the west midlands. On the point about getting the data down to a ward level, I will absolutely ensure that he gets that data. We look at it down to a lower super-output area level, and we publish that data weekly. I will ensure that it gets to him and that we get the full details of exactly how many cases there are in each part of Birmingham. I recognise that, while Sutton Coldfield is in the Birmingham local authority, it has a distinct geography within that area. As he knows, both from our discussions and from how we have acted in other parts of the country, we will take action on a sub-local authority area where that is supported by the data. Unfortunately, for now, we do have that local action in Sutton Coldfield, but we keep it constantly under review.