Disadvantaged groups may not be able to access COVID-19 antigen testing online
A requirement to verify the credit reference database may prevent disadvantaged groups from ordering the UK government’s coronavirus test online.
As part of the testing and traceability system, people with symptoms of the virus can apply on the NHS website for an antigen test to be posted to them.
Although requesting a home test kit does not require a no credit check, the process uses credit checking company TransUnion to verify the identity of applicants. Since the tests use data from voters’ lists, this could cause difficulties for people without a stable address such as asylum seekers, refugees and travelers.
Those who do not complete or pass TransUnion checks are instead required to go to a drive-thru testing center, which may not be possible for those without access to a vehicle.
The Ministry of Health and Social Affairs denied the system was discriminatory and said an equality impact assessment had been carried out.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT
A rapid needs assessment by Doctors of the World (DOW) found that digital exclusion, fear of being reported to the Home Office, and language barriers were preventing excluded patients from ordering the test.
Anna Miller, UK Policy and Advocacy Officer for DOW, said: “The COVID-19 testing system has been set up with very little regard for how migrants and other excluded communities, in particular those who have had their rights to healthcare withdrawn access NHS services and participate in measures to protect public health. ”
THE BIGGER CONTEXT
The pilot of the Track and Trace app at the center of the UK government’s COVID-19 strategy was dragged across the Isle of Wight may’s beginning.
On May 28, the test and trace system went to live in England, in order to ensure that anyone with symptoms of the virus can be tested quickly. It also aims to help trace recent contacts of anyone who tests positive so they can self-isolate.
Miller of DOW said: “Unfortunately, the NHS already has a poor record of protecting migrant patient data and has shown a willingness to share it with the Home Office and private companies. This will further erode trust between patients and the NHS. ”
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs said: “No credit check is required. Our identity verification process has been an effective way to stop fraudulent orders and is based on international evidence. Our testing call center is available to help anyone having issues with the identity verification process, and there are a range of other in-person testing mechanisms that do not require identity verification. ”
A spokesperson for TransUnion said: “TransUnion conducts rigorous identity checks on behalf of the NHS to ensure test kits are sent to the correct recipients and to minimize the risk of fraud. Identity verification uses information from an individual’s credit report. ”