OLDHAM East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams has challenged the Health Secretary Matt Hancock in the Commons to explain why it has taken 12 days for some Covid test results to be sent to Oldham’s public health team and not the 24 hour turnaround the government promises.

The government’s NHS Test and Trace programme is managed by former Talk Talk boss and Conservative peer Baroness Dido Harding and delivered by an assortment of private contractors.

Ms Abrahams, speaking after the Commons session in which she quizzed the health secretary, said: “Last month the time taken to get some test results back from the national test and trace programme to Oldham’s public health team, to enable them to trace the cases, was 12 days, not twenty four hours. This is on top of the 16,000 or so tests that were ‘lost’ last week of which the Health Secretary didn’t seem to know how many were from Oldham.

“This incompetence has to be addressed.”

The MP, who also informed the health secretary she has a 15-year-old constituent who had a Covid test over a week ago, but has still not had a result, and is self-isolating, said: “I told the Health Secretary that the impact of this delay is that her mum, who is a nurse, is also having to take the precaution of self-isolating, something she says her ward can ill afford."

“I also challenged him to tell my young constituent, and her mum, how many of the sixteen thousand or so lost test results were from Oldham, and how many contacts, not cases, have not yet been traced.”

In his response Mr Hancock avoided saying how many contacts had not yet been traced in Oldham, but he did say: “I’d love to take up the case of the individual who hasn’t had a result back because that is rare.”

Since Ms Abrahams' question in the Commons, Oldham Council’s public health team have said that approximately 400 Oldham cases were part of the 16,000 "lost" tests.

She said: “This means that around 1,00 people will have been in contact with these cases, and may also be Covid positive. Because these tests were ‘lost’ and delayed in none of these people will have been tested or self-isolated so, potentially, they could be spreading the virus.”

A former public health consultant herself, Ms Abrahams added: “To stop the spread of the virus it’s vital that test results are passed on as quickly as possible to our local public health teams so that that each Covid case can be contacted and supported as they self-isolate. Then all the cases’ contacts must be reached, tested and isolated until they know if they have contracted the virus or not.”