The government has published the list of 11 testing companies whose Covid assessments are approved for use in the test to release scheme.

However the scheme was immediately branded a mess after it emerged some of the firms are unable to provide tests and others are experiencing delays.

The Times reported one firm, Medicspot, is not taking any new testing orders due to a backlog while another, Screen4, said it could take up to eight days to get results back.

Manchester-based Same Day Doctor has asked to be removed from the government list after being overwhelmed with requests and saying it was unable to answer any more emails or take any more phone calls.

Another testing firm was charging £150, more than the stated range of between £65 to £120.

Paul Charles, founder of the PC Agency described the scheme’s introduction as a “mess”, adding that “it does not inspire much confidence”.

Lisa McAuley, managing director of Gold Medal and Travel 2, said on Twitter: “Becoming ever more difficult to believe the Govt ‘Test to Release’ plan wasn’t just cobbled together in a last minute panic…Providers overwhelmed ask to be removed from the scheme before it’s started doesn’t bode well. Maybe time to ‘fail fast’ and find a pragmatic solution.”

Test to release came into force on Tuesday (December 15), allowing those who test negative for Covid, having taken a test from an approved private provider, to be released from quarantine early.

It applies to arrivals in the UK from all countries not on the government’s travel corridor list, who are not required to self-isolate. Those who take part in test to release must also complete passenger locator forms.

Tests must be taken after five days of arrival in the UK from non-corridor countries. Without a negative approved test, travellers from non-corridor countries must quarantine for 10 days. This was reduced from the previous 14 days self-isolation requirement last week.

The list of companies can be found on the government’s website, and will be “continually updated”. The site also has an application section for companies wishing to be added to the list.

The government said there are different requirements for the test to release scheme than for what it called ‘general testing’, “which means that some providers for the general testing may not meet the minimum standards for test to release for international travel”.

As of Monday December 14, there was still no detail published on what type of tests will be accepted under the test to release scheme.

The approved providers for test to release at launch were:

  • Axiom Laboratory
  • Chronomics
  • DNA Workplace
  • Halo Verify
  • Medicspot
  • Oncologica
  • Prenetics/iDNA
  • Screen 4
  • Samedaydoctor
  • The London General Practice
  • The Private GP Clinic