People will still have to drive up to 75 miles each way to get a coronavirus test, Matt Hancock admitted today.
The Health Secretary said he has brought in the new national cap after a backlog led to people being told to drive hundreds of miles for a test last week.
He said most people can now get a Covid-19 test at their local drive-in centre and “we are increasing capacity”.
But he admitted people can still be asked to drive up to a new 75-mile limit, which “is still quite a hike”.
Mr Hancock made the comment despite an earlier pledge saying people would not drive more than 45 minutes each way to get a test.
On April 23, the Department of Health said: “The aim is that most people should not have to drive for more than 45 minutes to get to a regional testing site.”
But the new cap of 75 miles is far longer.
It is the equivalent of driving from London to Portsmouth or from Durham to York – then back again.
Despite the discrepancy, a Whitehall official today insisted both pledges were still valid.
Mr Hancock said the new cap was brought in over the past few days after “problems” meant people were told to drive hundreds of miles.
The Health Secretary told LBC Radio: “We’ve changed that now so that people get offered tests within 75 miles, which is still quite a hike if you need to.
“But the challenge is that we’ve got the biggest testing system per head of population of any major country in Europe.
“Significantly bigger than France, Spain, even significantly bigger than Germany.
“But over the summer we’ve seen the demand for tests go up and so some people are, if your local centre is full, then people were asked to go quite a long way.”
Mr Hancock spoke to an LBC caller, Nick from Nottingham, who was told to drive to a testing centre 350 miles away in Dundee.
Nick told the Health Secretary he was “not happy at all” after displaying Covid-19 symptoms 10 days ago.