Saffron Cordery, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents hospitals, said: “We continue to be extremely concerned about the spread of Covid-19. The data shows that there have been 61 per cent more people testing positive for the virus than last week.

“We are equally troubled that only 71 per cent of people who were transferred to the Test and Trace system were reached, which is a big decrease from 81 per cent last week. While Test and Trace has been built from scratch at great speed, it is becoming increasingly urgent that it does the job we need it to do as we approach winter.

“Trust leaders across the country are expressing increasing concern that current testing shortages are starting to impact on NHS service recovery and winter preparations.”

On Wednesday, the Commons health and social care select committee criticised the lack of any commitment to introduce regular testing for all NHS staff.¬† Jeremy Hunt, the committee¬†chairman, said weekly testing was required to prevent the NHS becoming a largely “Covid-only” service.¬†

The Government said testing capacity was increasing and the median distance travelled by people who go for a test is now 4.3 miles, down from 5.2 miles the previous week.

Baroness Dido Harding, the interim executive chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, said: “One in eight people in England have now received a test at least once and, with nearly 500 testing sites across the UK, the median distance to a test site is now just 4.3 miles.

“These are achievements of which everyone involved can be immensely proud. We are continuing to work tirelessly to increase capacity and make tests as accessible as possible.”

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