Many Lytham St. Anne’s residents have reported experiencing frustrating difficulties in currently accessing a Covid-19 test. When a test has been eventually accessed, they have been directed to test centres areas as far away as Llandudno, Barrow and Birkenhead. The availability of home testing kits also seems sporadic and erratic. People trying to get a test have then been hit with an error messaging stating: ‘Sorry, there are no more home test kits available right now. Try again later.’
Currently, Covid 19 testing in Lancashire is only available through permanent centres in Preston and Blackburn – plus community facilities in high case areas and mobile sites which pop up at various locations.
However, Home secretary Priti Patel this morning dismissed concerns about the shortage of Covid-19 tests in parts of the UK, including those areas struggling with the recent rise in infections. ‘Tests are available particularly in local lockdown areas, I’ve seen this myself, I’ve seen the teams that have been working on this.’ she said on BBC Breakfast. Despite the growing frustration, the Home Secretary claimed that the majority of tests were available within a 10-mile radius.
According to Dr Amanda Doyle OBE, the Chief Clinical Officer for Blackpool and Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), and the Integrated Care System (ICS) Lead for Lancashire and South Cumbria, this local difficulty in obtaining tests has led to huge pressure on the NHS 111 non-emergency number.
She has told the Lancashire Authority’s Health Scrutiny Committee that the 119 number and website for pre-booking Covid-19 tests recommends that people call 111 if they have a problem – and those sites are continually putting messages up saying no tests are available. She said that this is making it really difficult to get through calls.
Mr Abdul Razaq, consultant in public health at County Hall, said that the substantial surge in demand was partly as a result of the return of pupils to school and also because of inappropriate usage for holiday or employment reasons. However, he also said that there was a plan to set up one fixed-point local testing site in all 14 Lancashire council areas during the Autumn – with the aim of two such units being operational in each district by the end of the year. He said that these would be a booth-type operation, whereby you walk in, the test kit is available, you self-swab and you get the result within 24 hours. Mr. Razaq adding that Lancashire had asked the government to fast-track these facilities for the county.