His comments came after Sky News reported that the number of people who have been tested for Covid-19 in the UK might never be known due to inadequacies in data recorded while officials attempted to ramp-up testing numbers.
Keir Starmer calls on government to ‘open the books’ on its testing figures to restore confidence
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called on the government to “open the books” on its testing figures so the public can have confidence in the system.
Last month, Sir David Norgrove, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, wrote to health secretary Matt Hancock to warn that “the figures [on testing] were still far from complete and comprehensible”.
“I’ve seen this report from Sky on testing and it’s very concerning. I think there was an internal audit,” Sir Keir said.
“What I have said to the government is: open the books.
“We know that there has been double counting, we know that some of the tests that have been sent out have never made it back and we haven’t had the number of people tested every day published for over a month.”
He added: “This has got to be cleared up. It’s so important for confidence – this isn’t just about the numbers.”
The Department of Health and Social Care has defended its reporting efforts, saying there was a “balance to be struck between quality and timeliness” in the production of new statistics.
A spokesperson said: “We rapidly built, from scratch, a large-scale testing programme and can now provide a test to anybody who needs one.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have been transparent about our response to coronavirus and are always looking to improve the data we publish, including the way we update testing statistics.”