This is how to get tested for coronavirus in Sheffield and not get sent miles away

Sheffield’s health chief has reassured residents they can get tested for coronavirus locally, following reports of people being told to travel 20 miles for their tests.

Friday, 4th September 2020, 3:31 pm
Updated Friday, 4th September 2020, 3:32 pm

The BBC yesterday reported that the Government’s test booking website was directing people with a Sheffield postcode to testing facilities more than 20 miles away.

This came as it was announced that there were testing shortages as labs were ‘maxed out’ due to an increase in demand which has seen 170,000 tests a day being processed, up from 100,000 in mid June.

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People living in Sheffield have been assured they can still get tested for coronavirus locally (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

That’s why the Government has been prioritising ‘high-risk’ areas with high infection rates in the labs, and ‘rationing’ home testing kits and booking slots in areas that are of less concern.

As a result, BBC reporters found that people in lower-risk areas such as Sheffield were being directed to testing centres miles away when there was not enough capacity to test them locally.

However, Greg Fell, Sheffield’s director of public health, called it a ‘transient issue’ and insisted there was plenty of capacity to get tested in Sheffield most of the time.

“If you try to register for a test and it tells you you need to go a long way, then just stop and try again later, in a couple of hour,” he said.

Greg Fell

"There are some temporary problems with lab capacity which means that at certain times there will be no space left at Sheffield centres.

"But everybody I have spoken to who tried again later found they could get tested much closer to home in Sheffield.

"Nobody should be going far away to get tested. We want testing to be as accessible as possible."

The Depertment of Health and Social Care explained that available slots for booking tests at centres are updated throughout the day.

Booking slots are made available the evening before for morning appointments, and on the morning for afternoon appointments.

This means that over the course of a day more slots may become available.

A spokesperson for the department said: “We are working to increase national testing capacity and hundreds of thousands of people are being tested every day.

“There is a high demand for tests and our laboratories continue to turn test results around as quickly as possible.

"To make sure we stay in control of this virus we are targeting our testing capacity at the areas that need it most, including those where there is an outbreak, as well as prioritising at-risk groups.

“We are expanding testing capacity to 500,000 tests a day by the end of October – as well as bringing in new technology to process tests even faster.”

Greg Fell added: “The lab capacity problem is a national issue. To be fair to them, the Department for Health and Social Care are ramping up capacity and are doing a pretty good job of it. But we might have to manage like this for a couple more weeks.

"The spike in demand comes as people are getting back from holidays where they are told to quarantine and they are getting tested, even if they don;t have symptoms. That is probably what has caused the capacity problem.”