43,000 people wrongly told they were Covid-19 negative – the critical control questions to ask, today

  1. Visibility – what metrics are private labs being assessed against in their contracts for PCRs? Specifically, has a failure rate been agreed?
  2. Behaviour – What connects the interface of communication of results between labs and NHS Test and Trace and the public? If labs are communicating directly with the public how regularly are their failure rate results being independently checked?
  3. Trust – using these metrics of failure rates as a guide, what is the current performance rates of all other labs? What was the failure rate of this lab prior to 8th September? If this question cannot be answered, what is it that enables UKHSA to confidently state “public should remain confident in using both kinds of test”.
  4. Trust – given this systemic failure what changes to critical controls between individual labs and the NHS Test and Trace service are now to be made, and why? Noting particularly the interventions needed by the public and GPs to flag this failing.

These questions are produced by reordering the facts of today’s news of unexpectedly high false negatives being presented directly to the public from one private lab working on behalf of NHS Test and Trace. They are common-sense questions, derived from taking each fact from one press article, and considered holistically across the metrics of visibility | behaviour | trust, as detailed below.

All details below sourced via BBC report today.

visibility | b | t

43,000 deemed to have been wrongly advised; false negative rates breached by a multiple of the norm; dates in question are over a period of one month (8th September to 12th October); the lab have analysed 2.5 million samples in total for NHS test and trace; anectotally reported to BBC by GP’s for two weeks with concerns that symptoms of covid-19 were not being confirmed by PCRs;

v | behaviour | t

NHS test and trace investigation conducted; UKHSA suspended the lab; all prompted by individuals raising concerns as lateral flow tests and PCR tests conflicted; control environment uses PCR as a second check but overrides the LFT; UKHSA confirm no unusual circumstances that would suggest external cause (all other labs working normally, tests kits normal); testing sites deemed to be operating normally; UKHSA have commented “working with NHS test and trace and company to determine the laboratory technical issues…”; the lab commenting “fully collaborating”;

v | b | trust

UKHSA said “public should remain confident in using both kinds of test”; BBC asking who knew what when?; BBC asking how are these labs being run?; local councils in West Berkshire are asking people to redo their tests; scientists [per this article] advising people to trust the LFT if testing positive and stay at home.

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here: