Good Law Project has now filed Judicial Review proceedings to ensure the Government addresses the multiple failures in their oversight of the Immensa lab.
The not-for-profit believes the Department for Health and Social Care’s failure to set up and enforce a proper system to monitor the accuracy of PCR testing at private labs like Immensa breaches both their duty to protect life under the NHS Act 2006 and the human rights of the thousands of people affected.
Good Law Project is asking the High Court to compel the Government to implement proper safety checks at private labs to prevent this ever happening again, and to acknowledge that people were put in danger.
An estimated 43,000 people with Covid-19 were mistakenly given negative PCR results by the Wolverhampton lab, which contributed to soaring rates of infection across the South West and Wales.
It’s hard to say just how much further the virus spread in that time, as the Government seemingly hasn’t actually investigated or confirmed the true number. But Professor Deepti Gurdasani, a senior lecturer in epidemiology at Queen Mary University, estimates that the false negatives may have caused up to 200,000 further Covid-19 infections, and more than 1,000 avoidable deaths.
Amber Marshall told the BBC that she believes her grandmother Pam died as a result of Immensa’s errors. Pam died on 23 October, having caught Covid-19 from a member of staff at Stinchcombe Manor Care Home. The staff member had been given a false negative result and thought it was safe for her to go to work.
Many of the people given false negative PCR results have been left deeply distressed. One woman told Good Law Project that, without a positive PCR result, she missed out on support that she’d otherwise have been entitled to. She said: “I couldn’t believe it when I got the message from Test and Trace. I was so angry. I am 71 years old, and I was completely on my own. I could have died in my flat and no one would have known.”
Jo Maugham, director of Good Law Project, said: “A box-fresh unaccredited testing company was given a huge public contract; it then delivered tens of thousands of false negative test results.
“Ministers have failed to provide an account of what happened and to implement proper safety checks at private labs to prevent this ever happening again. With a tidal wave of Omicron sweeping the country people need to know Test and Trace won’t fail to protect them and their families and friends again.”