MPs have rejected a motion calling for NHS and social care staff to be routinely tested for Covid-19 regardless of symptoms, as the country emerges from lockdown.

The shadow health secretary's motion last week fell with 344 votes cast against and 198 for.

None of Cumbria's MPs voted in favour of the proposals.

Relatively new lawmakers in the south of the county - who voted with the Government - argue the proposals have been misrepresented, with Barrow's MP branding the motion a 'political stunt'.

The motion called on the Government to “implement a routine weekly testing programme for all NHS and social care staff to enable NHS services to safely resume and ensure the continuity of services throughout the winter alongside a functional, national, public test, trace and isolate system.”

On Friday, the member for Barrow and Furness, Simon Fell, argued: "I voted against the motion because I believe we should follow the testing approach outlined by the Chief Medical Officer, not the Labour Party.

"Even the BMA says there isn't yet the evidence to justify weekly testing of every NHS staff member, week in, week out.

"The Labour spokesman even aid that this measure should only be used 'if necessary'. This was just a political stunt.

"There's no lack of access to testing for NHS staff - it's just better and sensible to test as per the guidance. If the guidance changes to weekly testing being required, then the system is there to allow it."

Mr Fell did not respond to a comment request dealing with whether he felt access to testing had been adequate throughout the Covid-19 outbreak.

The MP for Copeland, Trudy Harrison, who also opposed the motion, said the vote 'has been misrepresented'.

She told The Gazette: "The strategy for the testing of NHS staff has been determined by clinical experts, including the Chief Medical Officer. The strategy includes priority testing for all NHS staff who have Coronavirus symptoms, as well as testing of asymptomatic staff in incidents where an outbreak occurs.

"This is a targeted approach to testing as it focusses on the most high-risk areas. Staff working with patients on wards, for instance, will be regularly tested whereas NHS staff who work in offices and administrative roles will not be, as their risk is far lower.

"There has been a huge demand for tests in the NHS and social care, which have been successfully distributed through the existing channels. Since the launch of whole care home testing, we have provided over a million test kits to more than 9,000 care homes, and we are now able to send out more than 50,000 test kits a day."

South Lakes MP, Tim Farron, missed the evening vote citing 'constituency engagements'.

He said: “I was paired with a Conservative MP for the vote meaning they weren’t able to vote against the motion and that I was able to get the train back to Cumbria so I could attend pre-arranged engagements in the constituency such as the Cumbria Tourism AGM, a meeting with ministers about how to help Cumbria’s economy recover after COVID-19 and my weekly advice surgery.

“I was disappointed that the motion was voted down by Conservative MPs – routine testing of NHS and social care workers is going to be absolutely essential in suppressing a second wave of infections.”

A spokesperson for Mr Farron also said: "Tim had to get a train back to the constituency.

"This was the last train he could have taken that evening and, had he not taken it, would have missed a number of important constituency engagements the following day.

"He supported the motion before Government amendments were made and organised a pairing with a Conservative MP.

"Tim not being able to vote had no overall effect, since it cancelled out the vote of a Conservative MP, who would've voted with the Government".

Before the motion was defeated last Wednesday, an amendment which praised the Government for its 'tireless efforts' was passed.

The amendment was put forward by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock.