A leading GP in Bradford is behind two private Covid testing companies on the official government list that are collecting large numbers of complaints, The Guardian can reveal.
Expert doctors and Covid travel clinics seem to be leaving a trail of disgruntled customers who say the PCR tests they ordered and paid for never arrived or showed up late – with some complaining that they had some as a result. days longer in quarantine. Both companies currently receive large numbers of one-star reviews on the Trustpilot website.
Waheed Hussain, the lead senior partner at an inner-city NHS medical practice in Bradford, is listed on Companies House as a director of Expert Doctors and the parent company of Covid Travel Clinics.
He is also the director of a third Covid testing company, Doctor Medical Services, which was founded just three months ago. At the time of writing, each of the eight reviews the company had received since December 3 was a “poor” one-star rating, according to Trustpilot.
All three companies’ websites prominently state that they are a “listed provider on gov.uk”.
The complaints are likely to prompt calls for the government to explain why businesses that leave customers seemingly dry and dry are allowed to continue promoting their wares on the official list of providers scanned by thousands of people every day. Last month, PCR tests became mandatory for those entering and returning from the UK.
Hussain’s companies aren’t the first government-listed Covid testing companies to receive complaints, and many are getting bad reviews on Trustpilot. In September, Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority said buying a PCR test was “a lottery”.
Expert Doctors operates out of Bradford and on Wednesday, December 15, more than 80% of the company’s 405 reviews on the Trustpilot website were rated “poor”.
In response, Expert Doctors posted messages on Trustpilot stating: “We have been inundated with recent changes as a result of the new variant. We are working around the clock to provide the required service. We have had additional logistical pressures, such as delays at the mail.” In some cases, it has provided an email address for customers to use so that it can address their inquiries “urgently”, and in other cases, it has posted a refund link for them to click.
Unlucky customers include Will Moran, 25, and his girlfriend, who had to undergo a PCR test at the end of the second day after returning from a short holiday in Lanzarote. He went to the government’s website on 28 November and booked with Expert Doctors, paying £70 for two day-2 tests.
But on December 8, four days after his return to the UK,he said the tests still hadn’t appeared, forcing him to pay for a test with another company. Under the new rules, individuals returning to the UK must self-isolate until they achieve a negative result.
He said Expert Doctors’ tests finally appeared this week.
“What’s the process of getting on that government list of providers?” asked Moran. “They don’t even do basic checks on these companies.”
According to the government listing, Covid Travel Clinics offers day-2 PCR tests from £15. On Trustpilot, more than half of the company’s 367 reviews were rated “poor” as of December 15.
Brett Ascott, 62, who lives in south-west London, ordered a PCR test from Covid Travel Clinics on Nov. 30 when he left for Spain on Dec. 4, and wanted the test to be there when he got home. He said he paid £35, although the top prize on the government’s website was £15. “Anyway, no test kit has arrived and despite three emails and phone calls, they have not responded.”
On December 7, the day after he returned to the UK, Ascott went to a local walk-in center and paid a further £65 to get a result within 24 hours. He said when his Covid Travel Clinics test finally arrived it was four days late.
Ascott said the fact that more than 400 companies were on the government list “shows what a profitable cesspool this has all become…I reported this company on the government website and they replied that they would respond within 25 days.” He added: “Who controls whether they provide tests, and their testing procedures? It’s like the wild west.”
In a statement to the Guardian, Covid Travel Clinics said: “We always strive to provide a responsive and customer-centric service. This month we have seen a recent surge in orders due to the recent government announcement… Courier companies have also experienced difficulties and delays in delivering the kits to customers on time during this period. We also experienced a significant number of orders with incomplete delivery addresses. We can assure customers that this wave is now managed by the couriers and that we are not experiencing any delays.” It said it was asking customers for a refund to fill out a form. “
Our customer service team has processed these refunds. We would also like to clarify that our price for onsite testing is £15 and, if delivered to the home address, is £35 for a day-2 test.”
Hussain, 47, is listed as a lead senior partner on Bradford’s Clarendon Medical Center website, stating that he has “experience with… travel vaccinations” and has been involved in education, particularly with regard to students from inner-city backgrounds interested in are in a career in medicine. Another online profile says he has been a primary care physician for over 13 years.
The directors of Expert Doctors and Clarendon Kensington Healthcare, which is listed as the parent company of Covid Travel Clinics, have been approached for comment.