Investigation calls after Covid-19 test centre problems in Newtown and Builth

Politicians and members of the public have reacted angrily after coronavirus testing problems in Powys – including lost results and cancelled appointments.

There are two drive-through testing centres in Powys – at Newtown College and the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells.

But several complaints have been lodged about both UK Government-run sites in recent days.

Newtown Central county councillor David Selby called for action on Monday in order to improve testing in Mid Wales.

“There have been reports over the weekend about the test centre at Newtown College closing early, leaving worried and disappointed attendees without a test,” said Cllr Selby.

“There are also many reports nationally that the testing service is not working correctly. I have contacted our Assembly Member urging him to call for an investigation and for action to improve testing in our area. I am dismayed problems have occurred such as this.

“We know we must all be careful and follow new social distancing guidelines to avoid increasing Covid-19 cases. I hope Powys Teaching Health Board and others providing testing can support our area correctly with a well-organised testing regime.

“I understand this is a UK Government issue. There is not enough capacity for processing the tests. Therefore, once the number of tests nationally reach a limit, they close down the testing sites.

“This is appalling and unacceptable. Handwritten signs are not good enough and no-one who is potentially ill should be expected to travel many miles for a test that may not even happen.”

County Times:

This follows on from numerous complaints lodged over opening times and lost test results that dogged the Builth site last week.

People already inconvenienced by having to drive long distances to the test centre – at the Royal Welsh Showground in Llanelwedd – were further infuriated when they arrived to find it closed.

One person who contacted the County Times said: “I had an appointment booked for 4:15pm but the site was locked up with nobody in sight. I was told it should be open till 8pm.

“There was no explanation, just an alternative destination of Ebbw Vale provided. Now I can’t go to work for another week. I’m livid.”

Mum Sam Marsh was furious after her young daughter’s test results were lost after she’d driven more than an hour to get to Builth from Aberdare.

In a post to her local councillor on Twitter: “I just want to let you know how shambolic the testing centres are. My four-year-old daughter had a slight cough and school policy was for her to get tested.

“After being on hold for more than 30 minutes I was told the nearest test centre was either Builth Wells or Devon.

“We ended up driving up to Builth from Aberdare. We waited 48 hours for the results but they then said they had lost them and to ring back in 24 hours. I did that and then they blamed it on computer error.

“All the while my daughter is off school and I’m in limbo. They have given no further advice or guidance. People need to be held accountable for this substandard service.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We have raised this issue with the UK Government, which runs this testing programme and the Lighthouse Lab testing system and we expect these issues to be resolved quickly to ensure people in Wales who have suspected coronavirus symptoms can receive a test as close to home as possible.

“We have recently announced £32m to increase capacity to process tests at laboratories in Wales, which includes extending our regional labs to 24-hour operation and six new ‘hot labs’ at hospitals across Wales. This investment will increase our testing resilience ahead of the winter.”

A spokesman for the UK Government Department of Health and Social Care, said:  “It is disappointing to hear of people having poor experiences accessing testing.

“Over 17 million tests have been delivered so far and we are aiming to grow capacity to 500,000 tests per day by the end of October.”

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