A professional association of Covid-19 testing companies has been launched in the UK to ensure accurate, timely and competitively priced screenings.
Founders of the Laboratory and Testing Industry Organisation said it would represent and regulate providers who can demonstrate that they offer “trustworthy testing services” to businesses and the public.
British Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said that the cost of PCR testing can be a barrier to people and that consumers and families must be protected from “exploitative practices”.
This month, the Competition and Markets Authority said it found travellers did not have the means to find the best deals and were at risk from providers who breached consumer law in tests needed for travel.
The association said it had provided eight recommendations to the UK government, which should result in better outcomes in the market.
Only providers that accept the CMA's code of conduct and score 3.5 or above on the independent Trustpilot rating website will be accepted as members, the association said.
It pledged to design a “gold-standard accreditation process and kitemark to provide consumer certainty”, within the next three months.
The association said it would work with the government to ensure that the UK industry has the world’s “highest ethical and professional standards”.
“The laboratory and testing industry has an important part to play in helping Britain navigate successfully through the pandemic," said Francis Ingham, independent director of the association.
“This new professional body is designed to set, enforce and raise the standards of service for our customers.
“The public has a right to expect testing companies to provide accurate, timely and competitively priced services and that is what the LTIO aims to achieve.”
The six founding members of the regulator are BioGrad, Cignpost Diagnostics/ExpressTest, Halo Verify, Medical Diagnosis, Project Screen by Prenetics and Qured.
The launch comes before a relaxation of travel testing requirements in England, in which people who are fully vaccinated no longer need a pre-departure test before returning from non-red-list destinations.
From the end of October, they will also be able to replace the Day 2 PCR screening with a cheaper lateral flow test.