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Competition watchdog outlines PCR testing cost probe details

The competition watchdog has outlined three strands of its probe into travel PCR testing costs and reliability.

The Competition and Markets Authority was requested to intervene by health secretary Sajid Javid a week ago amid growing trade and political concerns over “rip-off” charges.

CMA consumer protection senior director George Lusty said: “We will not hesitate to take enforcement action if we find evidence that PCR providers are breaching consumer law.”

The three areas that the CMA is currently exploring:

  1. Whether individual PCR providers may be breaching their obligations under consumer law and should be subject to enforcement action
  2. Whether there are structural problems in the market for PCR tests, affecting price or reliability
  3. Whether there are any immediate actions that the Government could take in the meantime

Lusty said: “It is essential that people paying for PCR tests are treated fairly, get what they pay for and that their rights are respected when things go wrong.

He added: “We are also working closely with DHSC [Department of Health and Social Care] to get the data we need to identify the cause of any wider problems in the PCR testing market, and to ground our advice on what action may be needed.

“This is a particularly pressing issue just now for families hoping to enjoy a well-earned holiday after such a difficult year, and for those reuniting with friends and relatives overseas.

“That is why we are also providing ongoing support to DHSC, including on steps that could be considered in the interim, before the rest of our work on the PCR testing market is concluded.”

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