People living in England with Covid-19 symptoms sent to test centres further away in Wales

Swab test on a nursing home worker. Public domain.

People living in England with symptoms of Covid-19 are being sent to test centres in Wales that are further away than their own testing sites.

According to BristolLive, Weston-super-Mare residents with symptoms are being directed to a testing centre in Cardiff.

That is despite there being a drive-through testing site at Bristol Airport around 25 minutes away from Weston.

People from Ilfracombe in Devon were also being directed to a test centre in Swansea when they tried to book a test online.

That meant that they would drive past centres in Taunton, Bristol and Cardiff on their six-and-a-half-hour round trip, driving 175 miles in each direction.

The cross-border journeys, described as an online booking flaw, are happening despite Wales having its own NHS run by the Welsh Government.

The cause of the problem is believed to be the system measuring journeys as the crow flies, without taking transport arrangements into account.

 

‘Basics’

Labour said problems with the booking system should be resolved as a “matter of urgency”.

The party said the issues are “hugely disappointing” and called on the Government to address them as a “matter of urgency”.

Shadow health minister Justin Madders said: “From the first days when testing centres were being rolled out, we have heard stories of people being sent unfeasibly long distances just to get a test, but for this to be still happening at this stage is hugely disappointing.

“Quick and easy access to testing are cornerstones of an effective test and trace system but once again the Tories seem unable to get the basics right.

“They must solve these problems as a matter of urgency.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “NHS Test and Trace is working, it’s completely free and is stopping the spread of coronavirus.

“Regional testing slots are allocated based on the nearest testing site with availability and we are working to ensure this takes into account journey times. Anyone with symptoms across the UK should get a test as soon as possible.”

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