Anyone who prevents health officers from inspecting private covid-19 testing facilities or equipment or provides false information could face a fine of up to £10,000 and six months in prison under new regulations being brought forward by the Health Minister.
As part of the regulations, the Medical Officer of Health, Dr Susan Turnbull, will be able to set standards for any private antibody and PCR testing facility in the island, with those who do not comply facing being shut down.
It comes after St. Lawrence Deputy Kirsten Morel made a push for such regulation in the States Assembly following the opening of a private drive-through centre at Tamba Park in May.
Pictured: Deputy Kirsten Morel was the first to put forward plans to regulate private covid-19 testing.
While the facility has since shut down, the Government had warned islanders to be "extremely cautious before giving their blood in a setting that we cannot verify meets clinical standards for care” shortly after it opened.
Deputy Morel said the situation showed why regulation was needed.
“The fact that… government officials have felt the need to warn islanders away from using such facilities, but at the same time those officials did not feel empowered to immediately close down the unlicensed facilities, proves the need for a basic regulatory framework,” he wrote in a report explaining his proposals.
The States Assembly unanimously supported his proposals, with the Health Minister announcing plans to bring forward plans for “light touch but sufficient regulation” in response.
Pictured: The Health Minister has recently published his proposals for the regulation of testing facilities.
Published last week by the Health Minister, the proposed regulations will apply to all testing services provided by private operators, whether they charge or not.
They will give powers to health officers to inspect any premises where tests are being carried out to ensure they meet the standards published by the Medical Officer for Health.
If the premises are not compliant, they will be notified and asked to make improvements, or face being shut down.
If the breaches present a risk to health, the Health Minister will be able to ask the Chief Minister to revoke a business’ licence or make them cease all work immediately.
Anyone that prevents such inspection or obstructs a health officer carrying out their duties they will be committing an offence and could face a fine of up to £10,000 and up to six months in prison.
Giving false information in relation to an inspection will also constitute an offence with the same penalty.
Pictured: Testing kits will soon be included in the Consumer Safety Law if Deputy Renouf's plans are approved.
Deputy Renouf is also suggesting amending the Consumer Safety Law so that it includes products used for medical testing, including over-the-counter kits, kits purchased online, and tests and procedures undertaken by individual firms.
Finally, the Health Minister will amend the Notifiable Diseases Law, so that testing services will have to notify the Medical Officer for Health of any positive results.
In the report accompanying his proposals, Deputy Renouf wrote: “Ministers recognise the potential risks associated with faulty or poor quality covid-19 testing, and these Regulations will provide a system of oversight and control of the testing services provided on-Island by private providers.”
The proposed regulations will be debated by States Members on 14 July.
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