A LACK of lateral flow tests in pharmacies is a “huge” problem as people have been requesting them every five minutes over the Christmas period, providers across the country have warned.

But in Herefordshire, they can be picked up at various places this week.

The chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies said patients are often unable to find the Covid-19 tests in pharmacies because of low and “inconsistent” supplies.

Leyla Hannbeck added that the current daily influx of 900,000 tests has not been meeting the high demand.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Hannbeck said: “What our members are telling us is that demand for the lateral flow tests is very high at the moment due to the current guidelines around self-isolation.

“Pharmacies are reporting that every five minutes approximately somebody comes in to the pharmacy asking for a test.

“But, unfortunately, because of the issues around supply being patchy and inconsistent, it means that those who come for the test don’t always get it, which is very stressful not just for the pharmacy team but for the patient.

“The scale of the problem is huge because the demand is high, because of the current guidelines.

“People are doing the responsible thing by wanting to be tested and we are in the Christmas area of time, and the New Year is just around the corner and people want to be with family and friends.”

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said nearly 900,000 test kits are being provided per day – which is double the supply seen before December 18 – but Ms Hannbeck said deliveries have been “patchy” and wasn't enough to meet demand.

In Herefordshire, lateral flow tests, designed for people without coronavirus symptoms, can be picked up from points across Herefordshire this week.

Where the Herefordshire Council teams will be:

Wednesday, December 29

  • Market Fair, High Town, Hereford, 10am to 4:30pm

Thursday, December 30

  • Morrisons, Leominster, 11.30am to 5.30pm
  • Old Market Car Park, Hereford, 10.30am to 4.30pm

Friday, December 31

  • Market Fair, High Town, Hereford, 10am to 3pm

Tests can also be ordered online here, or picked up at these pharmacies in Herefordshire:

  • Taylors Pharmacy, St Owens Mews, Hereford
  • Wye Valley Pharmacy, Holme Lacy Road, Hereford
  • Bromyard Pharmacy, High Street, Bromyard
  • Kington Pharmacy, High Street, Kington
  • Day Lewis Pharmacy, Bye Street, Ledbury
  • Westfield Walk Pharmacy, Westfield Walk, Leominster
  • WS&B Rees Pharmacy, Morris Mews, Leominster
  • Benjamins Pharmacy, Alton Street, Ross-on-Wye
  • Cohens Chemist, Kent Avenue, Ross-on-Wye

If you are picking up a kit from a pharmacy, you now need to get a collection code here.

The UKHSA has said tests may be temporarily unavailable on the Government website at points throughout the day due to “exceptionally high demand” and urged people not to order more tests before using the ones they have.

A spokesperson said: “During periods of exceptional demand there may be temporary pauses in ordering or receiving tests, to ensure we manage distribution across the system and support changing requirements for LFD and PCR tests.

“Reduced postal schedules also impact on delivery capacity over the Christmas period.

“Rapid tests are available to order directly to people’s homes via gov.uk and availability is refreshed regularly throughout the day.

“We encourage people to re-visit the site every few hours if they are unable to order tests as more will become available – and to please ensure they are making use of any tests they already have at home before ordering or collecting more.”