Former Health Minister: 100,000 testing target has made things worse

7 May 2020, 08:01 | Updated: 7 May 2020, 08:07

By Adrian Sherling

A former Health Minister has labelled the government's coronavirus testing target "dangerous", saying it takes focus away from they should be doing - stopping people dying.

The government met Matt Hancock's 100,000 coronavirus tests once on 1st May - but have missed it every day since.

John Denham, a Health Minister under Tony Blair, told Nick Ferrari that the target meant the government did everything they could to meet the target without thinking if they are doing the right thing.

He said: "I think it's a terrible mistake.

"The problem with setting targets - particularly if they're being driven from the top - is that the system will do everything it possibly can to meet the target, even if that means doing stupid things, even if that means damaging things, even if that means just hitting the target and neglecting things you should be doing.

"That's what's happening here.

Nick Ferrari heard from a former Health Minister why the testing target didn't work
Nick Ferrari heard from a former Health Minister why the testing target didn't work. Picture: LBC / PA

"A numerical target for the number of tests doesn't lead to the right people being tested at the right time in the right place.

"What really matters is, for example, in care homes, it should be the case that everybody working in them and living in them gets tested. That isn't happening.

"We should be able to test all our hospital staff every week. That isn't happening.

"Unless we're able to test, trace, track and contact all the people in the community, then coming out of lockdown is going to be incredibly risky because people who have got the virus will be passing it on to other people.

"We need to have a focus on how this is organised, not just on the numbers.

"Boris Johnson has saddled the entire health and care system with a meaningless target which is going to divert attention from what needs to be done to stop people dying. It's dangerous."

Hear his full, punchy interview at the top of the page.