Ministers urged to ditch 'rip off' travel tests after hundreds abandoned in the streets

EMBATTLED Transport Secretary Grants Shapps is being urged to ditch tests for travelers after wasted PCR packs piled up on street corners. 

Tests from provider Randox were left out in the streets after they failed to deal with the summer surge of tourists coming home. 

Snaps of the abandoned gold standard swabs were posted online over the weekend, with travellers angry at having wasted their money. 

Gavin Marshall said: "Forced to pay @RandoxOfficial over the odds for Day 2 PCR test, drive 30 mins to drop off sample because so few collection points only to find it over-flowing and insecure. Covid travel rip off."

Another snap showed hundreds of the tests piled high at a collection point. 

Reacting to the pictures travel expert Paul Charles said: "A symbol of the absolute mess that PCR testing has become.

"Personal details and samples left for anyone to take, and proof of private labs that aren’t in any hurry to turn around the results.

"Let alone send them for genomic sequencing that Govt isn’t so interested in now."

He added: "What is the point of taking a Day 2 PCR test?"

"What is the point of taking a Day 2 PCR test?"

Labour MPBen Bradshaw, said: 'These pointless rip-off day two PCR tests for people returning from amber & green list countries most of which have a fraction of our #COVID19 rates are becoming a bad joke. #SaveOurSummer"

Randox said that all of the tests pictured were being processed. 

Some tests can cost up to to £150 but last week it emerged hardly any were being checked for vaccine busting variants. 

Over the weekend Health Sec Sajid Javid wrote to the Competition and Markets Authority asking them to investigate “exploitative behaviour” and “unfair practices” of testing firms.

The watchdog is set to probe the fees charged to all travellers returning from amber and green countries.

They must take a test regardless of whether they are double jabbed.

Government approved sellers flog them for around £75 per person but some are available for as little £30 or as much as £270.

In France the average cost is £42 while in Greece it is less than £40.

Mr Javid wrote: "The cost of PCR testing can act as a barrier, especially for families who want to travel together.

He added: “It is not right if some families experience yet further disruption unnecessarily because of practices in the market for private travel tests.”

Last week influential Tory Huw Merriman blasted the mandatory testing saying: “This barrier to affordable travel needs to stop now.”

Transport Committee chairman, Mr Merriman said passengers had wasted £35million on tests taken from July 1 and of the 6,977 positive tests, only 354 were sequenced.

He said: “Long suspected that expensive PCR tests for travel are an unnecessary rip-off. Shocking new Test and Trace NHS data backs this up.

“Passengers are being ripped off with expensive PCR tests. We are told this is justified to sequence for variants but only 5% of tests are. This barrier to affordable travel needs to stop now.”

Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Travel Associationand former BA boss added: “This expensive and unnecessary testing I think needs to be challenged and I think the Government should demonstrate why they require it."

He added: "I think there is a valid reason and a concern, and I would accept that maybe for some of these high-risk countries that have been identified you can make the argument that some form of testing should be done, but I don't think you can justify requiring 2.2 million people to undertake PCR tests when only 8,000 of those are subsequently sequenced."  

A spokesperson for Randox said: “Randox is constantly expanding and improving its Covid-19 testing capacity and associated logistics network, which is already the largest in the United Kingdom, to meet the rapidly growing demand resulting from the loosening of travel restrictions. 

“Randox continues to increase the number of drop boxes across the United Kingdom, which already totals over 200, and is increasing the frequency of box collections which are already occurring multiple times per day. 

“Randox is providing premium testing services in dynamic and rapidly changing circumstances and is committed to continuously improving its logistics network, to ensure that international travellers receive their results in time.  

“All of the sample kits pictured will be processed.”

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