The chair of Bolton’s NHS trust has claimed the Government’s covid testing strategy is ‘fundamentally flawed’.

Professor Donna Hall CBE, who chairs Bolton’s NHS Foundation Trust, said that local health structures which could have managed testing in the borough have been bypassed and ‘management consultants with no local insight’ have been awarded ‘multi-million pound contracts’ to provide testing which could have been rolled out by local groups.

Ms Hall also responded to comments made by Home Secretary Priti Patel who answered concerns about the lack of tests in local lockdown areas such as Bolton by telling BBC Breakfast ‘there is much more work to be done by Public Health England and the public health bodies in those particular local areas’.

Prof Hall responded to those comments by saying: “She should stop blaming Public Health England and local public health teams.

“You can’t ‘grow the the market’, this isn’t a third rate lobbying firm or a tobacco lobbying firm you work for – it’s the UK Government.

“The fault lies with your centralised, fragmented, badly managed contracts.”

Prof Hall added: “We had the existing infrastructure and knowledge here in Bolton but we were ignored and a national system set up which seems to have no coherent strategy.

“We have fantastic lab facilities here in Bolton but the Government is not using it.”