People could have died

by Good Law Project

People could have died

by Good Law Project
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Latest: Dec. 17, 2021

Exposing the Immensa testing scandal: update

The Omicron variant is creating another season of Christmas chaos and a country-wide shortage of PCR testing has once again revealed shortcomings in the Government’s Covid-19 response.

Amid this…

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Imagine you’ve been in contact with someone who has Covid. So, you do the right thing and order a PCR test. You are relieved when the test comes back negative - and you continue to take your children to school, go into work and care for your elderly relatives.

Then, six weeks later, you are contacted by a private testing firm who tell you you’re at the centre of one of the biggest scandals of the pandemic so far...

Along with tens of thousands of others, you were wrongly told you didn’t have Covid when, actually, you did. Through no fault of your own, the lives of your family and friends have been put in serious danger.

This is the horror story facing 43,000 people who used a private testing firm that the Government assured us was safe. The scandal-hit lab is based in Wolverhampton and owned by a company called Immensa. Now, Covid rates in the South West are soaring higher than anywhere else in the country. 

Thousands of lives have been put at risk. How on earth could this be allowed to happen?

Government should have known about these major failings within days of the problem arising, yet it took weeks for them to shut down the site. Shockingly, Immensa is still being allowed to process people’s PCR tests for travel at their lab in Loughborough.

Now it transpires that Immensa was never fully accredited to carry out tests, despite the Government previously insisting it was. And somehow,  just 4 months after being set up, it was awarded a £119m Government contract in September last year without going through the normal tendering process. 

We’ve written to Health Secretary Sajid Javid asking him to immediately terminate Immensa’s contracts, compensate those affected and to take action to properly regulate private testing firms. How many more wake-up calls does this Government need before it starts putting people’s safety ahead of private firms’ interests? 

The Details:

Good Law Project has instructed Joseph Barrett and Zac Sammour of 11KBW Chambers, instructed by Bindmans LLP. They will work considerably below market rates. 10% of the funds raised will be a contribution to the general running costs of Good Law Project. We will use any surplus to develop other litigation.

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Update 1

Good Law Project

Dec. 17, 2021

Exposing the Immensa testing scandal: update

The Omicron variant is creating another season of Christmas chaos and a country-wide shortage of PCR testing has once again revealed shortcomings in the Government’s Covid-19 response.

Amid this, our work to address the failings at the Immensa lab in Wolverhampton is more important than ever. An estimated 43,000 people with Covid-19 were mistakenly given negative PCR results by the lab. They thought they were in the clear, but were actually positive for Covid-19. This contributed to soaring rates of infection across the South West and Wales.

Amber Marshall told the BBC that she believes her grandmother Pam died in October as a result of Immensa’s errors, 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.

Without a proper account of what happened, how can people trust the system won’t fail to protect them and their families and friends again?

We posed a series of questions to the Government, to try and get justice for the families involved and assurances that the situation is now under control, but their responses were vague and wholly inadequate.

We’ve now filed Judicial Review proceedings to ensure the Government reckons with the multiple failures in their oversight of the Immensa lab.

We believe their failure to set up and enforce a proper system to monitor and supervise 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.

It took the Government almost a month to identify the issue and to stop sending PCR tests there. And they didn’t even announce what had happened or start contacting affected individuals until three days after that.

It’s hard to say just how much further the virus spread in that time, but the effects of this mismanagement are potentially huge. As far as we know the Government hasn’t actually investigated or confirmed the true number. 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.

Many of the people given false negative PCR results have been left deeply distressed. One woman told us that, without a positive PCR result, she missed out on support that she’d otherwise have been entitled to: “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.”

We’re asking the Court to compel the Government to put in place proper safety checks at private labs to prevent this ever happening again and to acknowledge that people’s human rights were breached. We will keep you updated.

You can learn more about the facts and grounds of this case here. And read the Government’s response to our questions here.

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