Concerns raised over Lateral Flow Test supply issues in face of unprecedented demand

Supply issues (images TraceyAPhotos and Cllr Constantine)

A Kent County Councillor who sits on the authority’s public health committee says the acute supply issue for Lateral Flow Tests in Thanet -and across the country – has been caused by poor government planning and he fears health repercussions if people cannot test over the Christmas period.

A surge in demand has followed new rules where fully vaccinated people identified as a contact of a positive Covid case do not have to isolate for 10 days if they do a lateral flow test every day for seven days.

Although the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has doubled delivery capacity people are still having difficulties getting the tests with many pharmacies running out of supplies.

Cllr Barry Lewis

Cllr Barry Lewis said: “It is poor planning and over-promising by government. Advice to test up to twice a day has caused a supply and demand issue with even the website to order tests going down at one point.

“The PM over-promised without organising the supply chain so it could meet demand. I have passed on people’s concerns to the appropriate authorities and these will be passed to government. This is a national issue although Thanet seemed to be one of the places to run out earlier than others.”

GPs and pharmacies are today (December 20) reporting that online orders are now going through with deliveries coming through.

UKHSA has worked with Royal Mail for a rapid expansion in delivery capacity to people’s homes and is also increasing test availability at pharmacies, PCR testing sites and local authorities. Pharmacies are now able to access 10.5 million lateral flow tests per week, an increase of 5.5 million tests per week.

UKHSA says it is working to secure hundreds of millions more LFD tests and an increase in PCR laboratory testing capacity of up to 150,000 tests per day.

Credit: Martin Hambleton

UKHSA chief executive Dr Jenny Harries said: “We are very grateful to the public for stepping up and ordering tests to identify cases and protect themselves and others.

“Now, this huge operational effort will mean that almost one million people will benefit from ordering COVID-19 tests directly to their homes, every day. I want to thank everybody at the Royal Mail for their incredible response helping us deliver this massive effort at their busiest time of the year.

“Vaccination remains critical to help us bolster our defences against becoming severely ill – please remember to get your first, second, third or booster life-saving jab without delay to protect yourself, your families and your communities.”

Cllr Lewis says he hopes the Lateral Flow Test supply issue will be solved by the end of the week, adding: “Otherwise people will be going to their Christmas events without being able to get a test and that will mean obvious repercussions.”

Fellow county councillor Karen Constantine has requested information from Kent’s Public Health team about dealing with the supply issue.

She said: “As we are entering Christmas and people are expecting to visit each other in their homes, these tests are essential, and also for those that need to go out to work.

“It strikes me as ludicrous that we have no firm guidance from central government, and utterly farcical that the few steps we can take, such as self administered LFTs are hampered by lack of supply.”

KCC Public Health say it is a national issue and the supply of LFT tests is the responsibility of the government Department for Health and Social Care.

The  Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee says the unprecedented demand for test kits from people testing due to the Omicron variant, combined with precautionary testing before the Christmas period, continues with over 11 million tests having been distributed last week to pharmacies, double the amount for the previous week.

The PSNC said the continuing level of demand meant the UKHSA had exceeded its stock allocation for LFDs to be supplied via pharmacies but work to arrange further deliveries of test kits to Alliance Healthcare means more stock should be available from today (December 20).

Test can be ordered online. People can order one pack per day and a pack contains 7 tests, although there have been issues with online orders too.

Order from


  1. So I phoned 119, and after going through about 12 layers of menus, got to speak to a really helpful person who took my details and despatched some tests.

  2. No problem ordering on the internet for home delivery, just ordered. (24h royal mail) they will here tomorrow !

    • Omicron kills people. It kills a smaller % than Delta, but because it’s so infectious, it infects far more people, so more people will die.
      Get vaccinated.
      Get boosted.
      Get tested.
      It makes sense to protect you and your family.

      • Not sure how that logic works-all the evidence is the death rate is low. It spreads quicker than Delta, but that the symptoms are far milder.

        • There is as yet no scientific evidence either way about the severity or otherwise of Omicron. It’s not been around enough for significant data analysis to be carried out.
          You said “Not sure how that logic works-” – and there lies the problem. Far too many people, including politicians who make decisions on our behalf, don’t understand.

          There is just the faintest glimmer that Omicron just might be (possibly, perhaps, if we’re lucky etc) less severe than Delta.
          Some research carried out by Hong Kong University, as yet not peer reviewed, shows that Omicron attacks the bronchial tubes in your lungs – leading to relatively milder bronchitis. Delta (etc) attack the alveolus (the tiny sacs deep inside your lungs) leading to pneumonia and very serious illness and death.

          But it is early days.
          Keep testing, socially distancing. Get boosted.

    • Bill – I ordered my kits yesterday on web site and they are now available with no problem in ordering system. Obviously a glitch in supply system due to sudden great demand occurred. However, I do want to read or need Mrs Constantine and Mr Lewis in concert having a go. Quite pathetic couple by giving no leeway without spouting off!!

    • But how much evidence did you base your message on? Couple of anecdotes and suddenly there are no tests available in Thanet? Seems from comments on here a few people have had difficulties and at least as many or more have not. Why not offer a bit of balance rather than just playing to an audience promoting a problem without knowing if it really exists or not?

      • CJ – very well put – my kit arrived today exactly two days since I ordered via web site. As usual, Mr Lewis gets it wrong having jumped on a band wagon. Again, the messenger was wrong using his phrase!

    • Cherry picked facts and anecdotal evidence, whilst in themselves are no doubt verifiable, which do not reflect the wider realities. A ploy used by all sides to futher their agenda by picking the exceptions to the rule to push their viewpoint. Sometimes looking at the big picture would be far more beneficial to wider society.

      A politician has noted that 6 children have died from covid but 50 plus have died from abuse in the same period.
      We’ve allowed the NHS to effectively shut down and as a result waiting lists are throughvthe roof and huge numbers of diagnoses will be delayed , perhaps with serious consequences.
      The nation is paying the price for turning a blind eye to the state of the country’s health and fitness, but next to nothing is said because politicians of all hues don’t want to upset the electorate in question.

      In the meantime they’ll witter on about a very temporary shortage/delay in LFT availability, if they all gave up on the sniping and actually did something meaningful we all might have more respect for our political leaders , that applies to all sides , none of whom behave any better than the others.

  3. 2days on from above story MERIDIAN tv are covering the shortage with quote from same source as me .The Kent county council head of public health, dr Alison duggall amongst others.

    • What’s your point Cllr Lewis? Oh look at me I am right! PATHETIC Like most Councillors across the political spectrum at all levels of local government in Thanet you are a waste of space.

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