THE Scotland Office has been challenged over a “boast” about the number of PCR tests they have provided in Scotland. 

The Westminster department, headed by Alister Jack, piggybacked on an announcement by the Scottish Government recognising the milestone of more than 15 million PCR tests being carried out in Scotland.

But Dr Philippa Whitford, SNP health spokesperson, questioned what the UK Government was trying to achieve with the comment.

The former consultant breast surgeon said: “I don’t really understand the point of the boast.

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“Their narrative is ‘aren’t you lucky we gave you that, you wouldn’t have managed on your own’.

“Like we couldn’t have delivered PCRs ourselves.

“They spin a lot of nonsense.”

As of February 2, 2022, 15,092,074 PCR tests have been carried out in Scotland, 8,979,280 of which were provided by the UK Government.

Dr Whitford also noted the UK Government comes out poorly in the figures when comparing the results of NHS provision of tests in England to that of the devolved nations.

Official figures show around only around 10% of PCR tests carried out within the community in England were done by the NHS compared with around 40% in Scotland.

The UK Government mainly outsourced its testing capabilities to private companies. 

Dr Whitford added: “The logical way to have delivered PCR tests across the UK would have been through the NHS, so you have NHS quality assurance and the result was automatically available to GPs and public health teams.

“We were right at the end of the first wave before that joined-up access to results was created.

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“We don’t have borrowing powers but if we did, we would have had a better pandemic.

“The lack of control over money and the refusal of the UK Government to give the Scottish Government extended borrowing powers meant the Scottish Government were hamstrung.

“We already delivered six million of the tests and we would have delivered the rest.”

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf praised the “hard work and dedication” of testing teams.

He added: “Testing has a vital role to play as restrictions are phased out and we learn to with the virus.

"It may be tempting to think as vaccinations increase and cases drop, that testing will become less important.

"In fact, this will only make it more important to spot and prevent new outbreaks as cases emerge.

"We know from our experience just how quickly one outbreak can lead to another.

A Scotland Office spokesperson said: "We are working with the Scottish Government to make sure that people in Scotland have access to vital covid testing.

“The UK Government is providing all covid testing in Scotland outside of the NHS, through dozens of walkthrough and drive through sites, as well as 24/7 processing in the Glasgow Lighthouse Lab.

“So far we have provided nearly nine million of the 15 million covid tests done in Scotland, a great effort by all involved."