COVID 19: Covid test system said Helensburgh was ‘on an island’

Local woman dies after Government computer’s failure to plot where she lived

By Democrat reporter

The husband of Helensburgh pensioner Margaret McKell, 73, who has died after contracting Covid-19 says his wife was told she could not get a home testing kit as the NHS computer system wrongly concluded that she lived on an island.

Margaret McKell’s husband, John, said this was just one of a series of failings which let down his wife and left her so ill there was nothing else that could be done for her.

The confusion may have arisen because Helensburgh is in Argyll and Bute for local government purposes and comes under the Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board for health matters and for political matters in regard to the Scottish Parliament is in the Dumbarton Constituency. Additionally, for Westminster purposes, Helensburgh is in the Argyll and Bute constituency.

Whether Helensburgh comes under West Dunbartonshire Council’s health and social care committee we cannot say since that council and the SNP refuse to answer questions from The Democrat, which it has banned and boycotted.

Mr McKell, 67, was forced to say goodbye to Margaret, 73, on the phone as she lay dying in hospital.

He said: “Covid is such a horrible disease and we will never know if she would have got any longer. All we are left with are ifs, ifs, ifs. It is appalling the way the system isn’t working.”

Helensburgh – government computer tragically thought it was on an island.

The couple’s MSP and Scottish Labour’s deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “This is a heartbreaking story and my sincere condolences go to Mr McKell on the loss of his wife.

“He and his family have been comprehensively failed by the system. How anyone can imagine Helensburgh is an island ­demonstrates a basic lack of geographical knowledge.

“There should at least have been knowledge of local testing facilities with mobile units at GP surgeries.

“We will never know what the outcome would have been if she’d had a test earlier but it is an abject failure.”

Asked about the case, a Scottish Government spokesman said: ““We are aware some postcodes in Scotland are having issues getting access to a home testing kit through the UK Government’s testing portal.

“We continue to work closely with health boards to ensure those with suspected Covid-19 can access NHS testing irrespective of their home address, and we are setting up walk-through testing sites in areas where these problems persist to try to assist more local testing.”
A UK Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Our priority is to ensure everyone who needs a test can access one, with more than 600 testing sites across the UK, including 38 in Scotland, with another 11 local testing sites planned.”

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