Gabriel Scally (bottom right) on Good Morning Britain on September 14(Image: ITV/GMB)

Bristol professor on GMB calls for 'complete revamp' of coronavirus testing

He spoke to Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid on Good Morning Britain


A Bristol expert has criticised the "nonsense" coronavirus testing system, calling for the government to hand control to councils and local NHS trusts.

Gabriel Scally, professor of public health at the University of Bristol, appeared on Good Morning Britain (GMB) this morning (September 14) to discuss the rising case numbers.

Speaking to hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid, he said it is "ridiculous" that some symptomatic people had been allocated a test slot up to 100 miles from their homes.

He said the current system "hadn't got it right" and called for local authorities to take on control of testing in their areas.

Prof Scally said: ""The notion that we are asking sick people to drive up to 100 miles maybe... who have quite serious symptoms, some of them... is ridiculous.

"Or, if they're not driving, to be in a car with someone else to drive them - what an opportunity for spreading the virus.

"It is a nonsense."

He called for a "complete revamp" of the system, handing control to local authorities rather than Public Health England and its contractors.

Prof Scally argued: "The money and the resources need to go to local authorities, to local public health teams, to the local NHS.

"We need to mobilise the health visitors, the environmental health officers, in the communities.

"It's really got to go local."

He also stressed the importance of involving community leaders, particularly as the virus is particularly prominent in disadvantaged areas and areas with a high proportion of ethnic minority communities.

Today the new 'rule of six' comes into force, following a spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases - mainly among younger people.

Discussing the rise, Prof Scally predicted that there will eventually be an "overspill" leading to older and vulnerable people being infected too.

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Speaking on the ITV show, he said: "Some of it [the rise] might be due to doing more testing, but it is a really, really big rise.

"It doesn't necessarily have to translate into hospital admissions and deaths.

"I think a lot of older people and vulnerable people haven't bought into the message that we should be going out there on the high streets and socialising in pubs or restaurants.

"It's older people and those who have underlying conditions who are staying at home, wearing their masks everywhere, keeping themselves to themselves and keeping themselves safe.

"Having said that...I'm quite sure there will be spillover into the elderly population because we can't avoid it."


He said there will "undoubtedly be more hospitalisations", and that this is just starting to show in the statistics.

Prof Scally added: "The second really bad thing about it is that it is going to create this age-related division, where the only people you see outside, out on the streets and in shops etcetera, will be younger people, and older people will be terrified and will stay in their houses.

"I think it's very disturbing."