Ambulance driver with coronavirus symptoms denied test because “it’s too expensive”

An ambulance driver displaying symptoms of coronavirus has been told he cannot have a test because it is “too expensive.”

GMB member John (not his real name), is worried that without the test, he cannot go off sick, so shall have to continue to work, putting his patients at risk.

He told union-news.co.uk: “Yesterday I was exposed to patients who had COVID-19 and when I asked my manager for a test because I had a sore throat and had lost my sense of taste and smell, I was told “Yes”, then “No”, then “Yes” again.

“But when I went into work this morning, my manager told me: ‘Go and get your temperature taken and if it’s normal, we won’t bother with a test because it’s very expensive’. I don’t feel valued. To be told tests are too expensive is wrong. Testing should happen whatever they cost.

John is employed by Wimbledon-based healthcare transport provider HATS to pick up patients from care homes and run them to hospital and back. He is worried if he contracts coronavirus, he could pass it on to vulnerable care home residents.”

He said: “I feel pressurised to stay at work, not go off sick because I can’t live on £9 a day. Also, if I go off sick, who’s going to take the patients home? Who’s going to clear the hospitals?”

GMB organiser Helen O’Connor said: “It is of great concern to GMB that this worker has not been immediately tested for COVID-19 given he has COVID-19 type symptoms. This means that our member will struggle to get permission to self isolate and protect others from harm. Once again serious questions must be asked about the failure of outsourced companies like HATS in their duty of care to workers, patients and the public.”

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