'Farcical': Headteacher's dismay as PCR test results mixed up TWICE

People aged 18-23 living or working in Cambridge are being urged to get a PCR test for Covid-19 as part of extra testing

The Department for Health and Social Care said the country's 1060 testing sites had processed over 290 million virus tests since Test and Trace began - Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/PA Images 

A Norwich headteacher claims she was forced to isolate unnecessarily after her PCR test was TWICE mixed up with her daughter's.

The 47-year-old head, who does not want to be named, has hit out at staff at the Postwick testing site in Norwich following the ordeal — which almost saw her poorly daughter head into school and infect her peers.

Her husband, a 52-year-old engineer, said: "It's farcical. We suspected our daughter had Covid because she tested positive on a lateral flows. My wife and I were consistently negative.

"When we went to Postwick site for an assisted test, we saw the assistant mix up my daughter and wife's swabs. When the results came back showing my daughter was negative and wife positive, we smelled a rat.

"We called 119 and they admitted the error, and recommended my wife and daughter do another PCR test.

"If we hadn't seen the mistake, we would have sent our daughter back into school."

Aerial view of Postwick testing centre. Picture: Mike Page

Aerial view of Postwick testing centre. Picture: Mike Page - Credit: Mike Page


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A Department for Health and Social Care spokeswoman said they took reports of errors during the testing process "extremely seriously", and that more than 290 million tests had been successfully processed to date.

She added: "We continue to work with all local testing providers to investigate complaints and, if necessary, take steps to improve."

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But that wasn't the end of it.

The next day, the mother and daughter went back for another test. This time it wasn't assisted and was run by contractor G4S rather than DHSC.

After completing the tests, the headteacher realised the swabs had been placed in the wrong bags AGAIN.

She notified the assistant, but claims she was told: "It doesn't matter. You can't do another one. It's 50/50. Just remember your barcodes, and that whoever comes back positive is actually negative."

Hoping to test their luck elsewhere, the pair drove to Great Yarmouth testing centre afterwards and finally received the correct result in their name.

Acle Academy principal Helen Watts. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Acle Academy principal Helen Watts. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Helen Watts, vice chair of Educate Norfolk, stressed how important accurate PCR testing was for schools to keep functioning.

She explained: "PCR testing of close contacts is helping with the rapid recovery of lost learning by helping minimise further disruption to children's education."

What has G4S said?

A spokesman admitted the employee had been wrong not to offer another test to the pair.

He explained: "At our testing sites, once the pre-assembled individual test is handed to people in their cars, we have no further contact with it to prevent contamination.

"When there is multiple people in one vehicle, it's been known for them to realise they might have accidentally mixed up their swabs and sealed them in the wrong bags.

Postwick Park and Ride which is currently closed and being used at a Covid-19 testing station. Photo

Postwick Park and Ride which is currently closed and being used at a Covid-19 testing station. Photo: Sonya Duncan/Archant - Credit: Sonya Duncan

"When that occurs, they are welcome to complete another test, but cannot be guaranteed they will be able to do so at that precise moment. They may be asked to book another test, usually available the same day.

"Our team members are trained to follow this process, and will look into circumstances where this does not happen and provide further training and guidance if necessary."

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