Wales’ school children need Covid-19 tests closer to home, Senedd Member says

Swab test on a nursing home worker. Public domain.

A Member of the Welsh Parliament has expressed concern that school children are having to travel long distances for Covid-19 testing.

Janet Finch-Saunders said she was aware of some parents in her constituency of Aberconwy who had been advised that the nearest available site for their child was in Oldham in Greater Manchester.

The Welsh Government is responsible for testing centres in Wales but is part of the UK government portal for booking coronavirus tests, which is run by the UK Government’s Department of Health and Social Care.

Those needing tests have complained of long journeys from Wales to England and vice versa. Today a councillor in Torbay raised concerns about people in Devon being sent on a 260-mile journey to Wales for tests.

Speaking to Radio Exeter, Cllr Lee Howgate condemned the testing system as “nowhere near good enough”.

Yesterday it was also revealed that school children from London were being sent to Wales, and people from Wrexham being sent to Telford.

 

‘Unacceptable’

Janet Finch-Saunders said she had written Welsh Minister for Health, Vaughan Gething MS, to request a change to the online test booking system so that it may display all available slots at the beginning of the day.

At present, the online booking system staggers the opening of new slots throughout the day.

“I am incredibly alarmed at the revelation that local school children are being offered a COVID-19 testing slot at a site in Oldham, Greater Manchester,” she said.

“This is plainly unacceptable, especially when you consider that we have a perfectly capable testing site in Llandudno.

“Parents have often found slots at the local site to be booked far ahead of time, with the online booking system causing great confusion and frustration. This is because available slots randomly appear throughout the day, seemingly without rhyme or reason.

“Having been contacted by a number of concerned constituents, I have now written to the Welsh Health Minister to petition for a change to this booking system so that greater clarity can be offered to concerned parents.

“With the school year now in full swing, this issue must be swiftly rectified by the administration responsible for public health in Wales.”

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