HEALTH Secretary Jeane Freeman has hit back at reports that the UK will control coronavirus test kit procurement for devolved nations and insisted Scotland will continue to source its own.

Yesterday, reports indicated that a bidding war for test kits between NHS England and NHS Wales last week had ended with the firm selling the tests prioritising the larger order and Wales missing out.  

Sources said in order to resolve the situation the health ministers of the UK’s four nations met on Friday and agreed Whitehall would centrally co-ordinate the procurement of further test kits.

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price had been furious about the decision, saying Wales had been left with a system “whereby we don’t have any independent means of securing our needs”.

However it later emerged that there may have been different views between the nations on whether the new system would be enforced or an opt-in scheme to be used for gaining additional testing capabilities.

Speaking at the First Minister’s daily coronavirus press briefing yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon insisted NHS Scotland was still on track to meet its testing target of 3500 people per day over the next month.

And on Twitter Freeman clarified that the new centrally co-ordinate UK procurement project would “add to that testing capacity”.

Responding to a tweet which claimed NHS Scotland would have to “beg London for tests” under the new system and showed a Sky News clip on the UK scheme, adding “here is the proof”, Freeman said: “Except it’s not.”

She went on: “We have our own NHS Labs which are continuing to scale up and rightly, we are part of the 4 nation work to add to that testing capacity.”

Other European countries, like Germany and Norway, have introduced mass-testing systems to try and slow the spread of the coronavirus. The World Health Organisation has recommended countries test citizens on a large scale in order to get a handle on the pandemic.

Former UK health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said the UK’s failure to implement such a policy is “very worrying”.

Sturgeon has said Scotland’s efforts to “expand and accelerate” testing capacity will be key in work to ease Scotland out of lockdown later.

Yesterday, the SNP leader added that she is hopeful there will be a slowing of new cases by the end of April – before the maximum testing capacity is achieved.

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