A south-east London council is demanding the Government hand over the reins to coronavirus testing, citing “alarm and deep concern” after widespread reports of residents being directed to testing sites as far away as Wales and Leicester. 

Greenwich Council’s leader Danny Thorpe and deputy Denise Scott-McDonald are set to move a motion calling for “control of the testing system” at the September 23 full meeting of council.

Cllr Thorpe told the local democracy service he wasn’t aware of any other local authorities who were conducting their own community testing, but said many “were desperate to” and would do so if they could get laboratory access.

“What’s happening is affecting residents right across the borough and I hope next week we have a unanimous vote that sends a clear signal to the Government about how unacceptable this is and gets us a positive solution that would improve things,” Cllr Thorpe said. 

Greenwich already handles its own aged care home testing within the borough, the result of a private deal between them and Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust.

In their motion, the leadership duo state “alarm and deep concern at the ongoing failures of the national test, track and trace system”.

“Council believes that local residents are being badly let down by these repeated failures and expresses concern that this will lead to the further spread of coronavirus,” the motion states.

The pair call on the Government to “hand control of the testing system to the council with immediate effect”.

The move comes amid concerns that testing capacity in London has been overwhelmed amid schools and universities returning earlier this month.

A surge in demand for tests has led to local shortages, with many people reporting issues with securing online bookings and being directed to test sites hundreds of miles away.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons on Tuesday the Government was “working around the clock to make sure everyone who needs a test can get a test”.