Londoners are having to use these faraway postcodes to get a coronavirus test – My London



People living in South West London say they are struggling to get coronavirus tests locally, with many being offered sites as far away as Scotland.

Yesterday (September 15) Twickenham MP Munira Wilson told the Health Secretary Matt Hancock that a number of her constituents had even been advised to put an Aberdeen postcode into the system so they can get a test in Twickenham.

However, Mr Hancock said “people should take this seriously and not game the system”.

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It is understood that the issue with people using different postcodes to get a test is currently being resolved, and that issues with testing are around lab processing capacity, not test centre capacity.

In response to her concerns about the test and trace system, Mr Hancock added: “It’s incumbent on all of us to take a responsible approach and tell our constituents that tests are available in large numbers, that the average distance travelled is 5.8 miles.”

Daniel Wright, from Kingston, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that on Sunday evening he tried to book a test online, but it didn’t work.

He said: “We were offered a slot, got to the confirmation page, clicked confirm and it went back to the home page. 90 minutes on hold later we were told by the helpline that this meant we didn’t have the test as we had no QR code.

“So instead we used an Inverness postcode to book a test up there, then took the QR code to Twickenham where they did the test no problem. The whole place was empty.”

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Anna Chrabol from New Malden said she was “baffled” she could not get a test for her son at the Chessington site this morning.

She said: “My younger boy has a fever and I went to the NHS website, I tried to book a test and I went through the form giving my data and information and then I reached the answer that they are extremely busy and I need to try in a few more hours.

“I’ve done it a few different times throughout the day and each time I’m getting the same.”

She says her son is in overall good health at the moment, but she doesn’t want to risk spreading the virus.

“We don’t know and obviously I don’t want to spread it. I didn’t send my older boy to school because I need to be sure even if he is alright, it doesn’t mean that he is not spreading it.

“It’s making it difficult. I’m not really sure why it’s so difficult because it’s not the beginning, I thought it should have been sorted by now. We’re going to try again.”

Another Kingston resident, Andreas, said he had trouble booking a local test a few weeks ago when he had a high temperature.

“I was concerned about the children going back to school and what not so I got the test, but it took me a long time to get the result that I wanted at Chessington.

“I was being referred to Reading and Slough and places too far, particularly if you’re not feeling too well to try and drive to, and I’m the only person who drives in the family.

“It took me about two nights. I tried at 8pm and didn’t have any luck, it kept showing test centres too far away. But eventually at about 8.20pm I managed to get Chessington, but for no rhyme or reason, it’s so random in the way it suddenly pops up.”

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Now he is struggling to get tests again for his children, after his youngest had a high temperature last week.

“We basically wanted the kids to go back to school on Monday, but we could not get a test. I don’t think we’ve got Covid if I’m honest, it’s just a high temperature and there’s a lot that points to our child teething, but you just don’t know so you try and book the test.”

This time around he has not been able to get any test sites at all.

“Before at least it was offering tests in Reading. Basically with the schools going back it has completely flummoxed the whole system I imagine.”

Last night, (September 15) leader of Kingston Council Caroline Kerr tweeted her dismay at the situation.

She said: “This is crazy! People from Chessington World of Adventures are being told to go to Scotland for a test rather than walk across the car park to an empty test centre. Lack of testing is the biggest threat to keeping our schools open and our care homes safe.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said:

“NHS Test and Trace is working and our capacity is the highest it has ever been but we are seeing a significant demand for tests including from people who do not have symptoms and are not otherwise eligible.

“New booking slots and home testing kits are made available daily for those who need them and we are targeting testing capacity at the areas that need it most, including those where there is an outbreak, and prioritising at-risk groups.

“Our laboratories are processing more than a million tests a week and we recently announced new facilities and technology to process results even faster. If you do not have symptoms and are not eligible to get a test you can continue to protect yourself if you wash your hands, wear a face covering and follow social distancing rules.”

If you have a story or information for us from this part of London, please email sian.bayley@reachplc.com