Fears families being sent 'miles' for tests will hamper efforts to stamp out coronavirus in South Tyneside

Reports of families in South Tyneside being sent miles away for Covid-19 tests are being investigated by health chiefs amid fears it could hamper efforts to stamp out cases in the borough.

Thursday, 10th September 2020, 12:41 pm

Mobile testing units have been operating at various locations in South Tyneside, including at Temple Park and Little Haven.

But despite these options, some families have been sent miles out of the area for screening, prompting concerns it could discourage some with symptoms from getting a test at all.

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A coronavirus testing centre elsewhere in the country (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

“Anecdotally, it seems people who do have symptoms and want to get tested, when they go online are being sent not to local testing units and actually often much beyond the region,” said Joan Atkinson, cabinet member for Area Management and Community Safety at South Tyneside Council (STC).

“I don’t know how many people this is affecting, but I know it is affecting people and it is going to be a big disincentive to those who may have symptoms, but feel they can’t get in anywhere locally, even though they know there is a local option.”

Cllr Atkinson was speaking at a meeting of the council’s ruling cabinet, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

According to health chiefs for the borough, 110 tests were carried out at a mobile test centre in the borough on Tuesday, September 8.

The facility is also expected to be at other locations in the borough over the coming days.

Tom Hall, STC’s director of public health, said: “I too have been made aware of anecdotal reports of people struggling to get testing slots.

“We’ve fed that back [to NHS Test and Trace] and sought assurance that slots at Temple Park and Little Haven are being prioritised for South Tyneside residents.”

Hall added anyone in the borough struggling to get a test in a convenient location should continue checking the NHS website for more screening slots being released.

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