MSE News

Covid test firms form self-regulating body in a bid to tackle poor service concerns

Six Covid-19 test providers have formed a new body called the 'Laboratory and Testing Industry Organisation (LTIO)', in a bid to represent and self-regulate testing firms. Members will need to follow a code of conduct and have decent customer service reviews. It comes after the competition watchdog launched a review into the industry amid concerns over misleading prices and unfair practices.

The idea behind self-regulation is to ensure accurate, timely and competitively priced services are provided. The six firms that have signed up to the scheme at launch are as follows: BioGrad, Cignpost Diagnostics/ExpressTest, Halo Verify, Medical Diagnosis, Project Screen by Prenetics and Qured. Both Qured and Project Screen currently appear in our round-up of the Cheapest covid test providers for overseas travel.  

The LTIO says it will create a gold standard accreditation process and kitemark to "provide consumer certainty” within the next three months. It adds that it will work with the Government on this.

The organisation will also only accept membership requests from providers with a score of 3.5 or above on the Trustpilot rating website, and which agree to a code of conduct based on an open letter from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) earlier this month, which called on PCR test providers to:

  • Show the full cost of tests, including all compulsory charges.
  • Not focus their advertising on cheap tests which are only available in small numbers.
  • Provide "honest, accurate and clear" timescales on when tests will be received.
  • Ensure PCR tests and results are provided within advertised timescales. 

The CMA had issued an official warning to PCR providers to clean up their practices amid concerns they may be breaking consumer law. The watchdog said it had identified a number of "harmful" practices, which it will further investigate. It follows a rapid review of the industry conducted last month on behalf of the Government. 

Travellers must take PCR tests when they return to the UK from abroad, although this is changing from next month for fully vaccinated passengers travelling to England who will be able to take cheaper lateral flow tests instead - see our Coronavirus Travel Rights guide for the latest. 

The Government is still considering the CMA's previous recommendations to improve the industry.

Additional reporting by the Press Association. 

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