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West Berkshire residents struggling to secure Covid-19 tests

People turned away from Newbury Showground facility

John Herring

John Herring


01635 886633

West Berkshire residents struggling to secure Covid-19 tests

People trying to secure coronavirus testing at Newbury Showground have been turned away as testing capacity has been prioritised to high risk areas. 

As reported last week, people in the district trying to book tests at the Newbury Showground facility had been given slots as far as Inverness, the Lake District, Leicester and the Isle of Wight.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last week that no one would have to travel more than 75 miles for a test, but now people seeking tests have said they cannot access the system at all. 

Postcodes entered into the booking system say there are no home tests or centres available, even for key workers with symptoms. 

One person told Newburytoday that they had been trying to book a test for their son since Friday. 

She said: "My son is due to go to university on Saturday. He had a bit of a cold so we ignored it but he then had a high temperature so we said we can't ignore this, we will get you a test. We went online to get a test and just been trying ever since but there were none anywhere. 

"As I'm a key worker I asked if there was another way to get a test. Every school has got 10 home kits but they are not allowed to give them to staff, only parents." 

A code was found for another online portal but after following the process the system said no tests were available. 

"I have been trying since Friday. Some people have said if you have a QR code you can turn up. The only one we could get a slot for was in Dundee."

Her son went to the testing facility at Newbury Showground with the code but was told he could not be tested. 

"There was no one there," the woman said. "Another friend trying to get a test couldn't get a pass and said we have got an appointment and they still turned her away.

"Literally, I don't know how to get a test. I tried booking a postal test but by the time I got to the end of it it said there were no postal kits.

"We are now following the guidance and self-isolating. My daughter can't go to school. It's not the end of the world but I can't go to work and there's no one to teach my class.

"I'm a teacher but I also look after my two elderly relatives in Thatcham. It's just very worrying.

"I've only been in my class for a week. My daughter is absolutely upset, she's desperate to go to school.

"I've tried four times this morning but as soon as you put in a postcode it says come back in a few hours." 

Alison Quayle from Enborne said the showground site was "absolutely empty".

The 64-year-old said: "I was advised by my GP to have a test this week because she diagnosed that I was suffering from a lung infection. I have a mild lung infection and a cough following an operation five months ago. 

"I tried to book online every half hour between 12 and 4pm. The website said that testing was at capacity and to keep trying.

"I then phoned to request a home test kit and a recorded message told me that all home test kits had been sent out for the week and to try in a weeks time.

"I can't get a test at all. I tried this morning from 8am but it says they are oversubscribed. I have been trying constantly for a week now. I'm having to self-isolate because I don't know if I have this infection or the virus. 

Mrs Quayle is due a physiotherapy appointment this week, but said: "They won't let me into the hospital because I have not been tested."

She said she had been to the testing site at the showground and said "there was nothing going on".

"The site was empty apart from staff in hi viz jackets sitting around drinking tea.

"The chap on the gate was very apologetic and said that I couldn’t be tested without an appointment made online even though there was no one there being tested and lots of staff doing nothing.

"He said we have been turning so many people away who have been driving for miles.

"It is scandalous that a vast site stays empty with people employed to do nothing whilst I and no doubt many other people urgently need to be tested."

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