Anxious South Yorkshire family offered coronavirus test 60 miles away in Bolton

A mum of three from South Yorkshire has spoken of the anxiety that was caused to her family when she was offered a covid-19 test almost 80 miles away in Lancashire.

Thursday, 17th September 2020, 4:45 pm

Fay Tattershall, of Thurnscoe, Barnsley was initially offered a slot at a testing site 60 miles away in Bolton, then 40 miles away in Oldham on September 12, after her children became unwell and she began showing symptoms.

Mrs Tattershall tried again on September 15, and managed to book a test in Leeds on the same day.

She travelled with her husband Jamie their daughters – Libby, 11, Ruby, 13, and Brodie, 14, only to be told they were not properly registered, and could take a test but would not recieve the results.

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Fay Tattershall, of Thurnscoe, Barnsley was initially offered a slot at a testing site 60 miles away in Bolton, then 40 miles away in Oldham (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The family returned home without getting tested and phoned 119 as advised. The operator said they were aware of a website glitch that sends users to the start of the booking process when no slots are available.

Mrs Tattershall said: “We’ve been stuck in limbo and it’s caused a lot of anxiety. It’s really disappointing and so confusing.

“It should be easy to get a test when you need one but it’s been really difficult. And we’re lucky – we have the internet and a car.

“We went to Leeds for a test and there was nobody there. The staff were all just stood around. He said I can test you but because we haven’t got your details they couldn’t send the results back.”

While they wait for test results, Jamie, who is self employed, cannot work and their daughters cannot go to school.

After five days of trying, Mrs Tattershall managed to book a test in Barnsley online for September 17, and is now hoping they get the results back quickly.

The government has been criticised after people with symptoms have been unable to book tests, even in some of the worst affected areas, or have been offered appointments miles away.

Mrs Tattershall contacted her MP John Healey for help with getting her family tested.

Mr Healey said the government was "in denial about the scale of the problem".

“Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been given to private companies to run this programme yet it is not fit for purpose,” said Mr Healey.

He added: “With cases on the increase, children back at school and the government telling everyone to get back to work it is vital that the test and trace system is working properly.

“People are doing as the government is telling them and trying to get a test if they have Covid symptoms, then finding they can’t book an appointment or being sent miles away.

“How would someone from Rotherham or Barnsley, who doesn’t have a car and may be without an income because they’re isolating, get to Lancashire for a test? And where is the sense in sending people to towns already identified as Covid hotspots?”

Mr Healey continued: “The government seem to be in denial about the scale of the problem. This is not giving the public the safety and assurance they need and risks losing control of the virus.”

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