People across England have told BBC News that they are having trouble accessing coronavirus tests.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last week that no one should travel more than 75 miles for a test after the BBC announced that some were hundreds of miles away.
But dozens have now reported that they can̵
The Department of Health and Welfare (DHSC) said the testing capacity is targeting the hardest hit areas.
A significant increase in the demand for testing led the government to reduce the number of available appointments in areas of lower prevalence in order to give priority to areas with outbreaks.
This, in turn, resulted in people requesting tests being directed to centers, sometimes hundreds of kilometers away.
But last Thursday, Mr. Hancock promised to put in “immediate” solutions to ensure people didn’t have to travel more than 75 miles as of last Friday.
Since then, zip codes entered into the government’s booking system have returned a message that no testing centers or home jerseys are available – even if you are an essential employee with symptoms.
A DHSC spokesman said, “We are seeing significant demand for testing, but if you have symptoms we ask that you get tested.
“New booking slots and home test kits are made available every day”.
Melissa, a general practitioner in northwest England, requested a test for her seven-year-old son Tuesday after developing a new persistent cough and changing his sense of taste.
After being offered a test in Sunderland, about 130 miles away, she applied through her local NHS staff portal to prioritize health workers.
But this system took them first to Telford, nearly 100 miles away, and then to London, a distance of more than 200 miles.
No home kits were available.
“It was a nightmare,” she said. “I had to cancel personal appointments with patients, including baby clinics.”
She added that this had become a common theme in NHS Facebook groups of which she was a member.
“The whole system will fall over.
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“It doesn’t seem like the infrastructure is there to support NHS workers during the winter.”
That feeling has been confirmed by a psychiatrist in an area that currently requires government intervention due to its high rate of coronavirus.
She found that no tests were available after developing all of the symptoms of the coronavirus in the textbook, including a cough and fever.
“Glitch in the system”
Frances from Suffolk tried to apply for a test when her daughter developed a high temperature. She didn’t think it was coronavirus, but “the rules are the rules”.
She understood that anyone with a temperature should get a test and couldn’t send any of her children to school until she did.
“Your teachers have to be sure, their classmates have to be sure, we have to do the right thing,” she said.
Frances, like Melissa, was unable to get a home shirt and when she tried to get an appointment at a transit center she was told that no test sites were found.
“It almost looks like a glitch in the system,” she said.
And Jamie in Chesterfield spent seven hours contacting someone on 119 after no slots were shown in the online booking system.
His school-age child had developed a new cough.
“It’s the right thing under the guidelines,” he said.
Eventually he managed to get a test 50 miles away.
This is because various data sources show that cases are increasing and the epidemic is growing for the first time since the lockdown.
There is some evidence that the problems accessing tests have occurred since the schools returned.
Mr Hancock has claimed that 25% of people who apply for tests are ineligible because they have no symptoms, even though his department did not provide where that number came from.
The NHS 111 data released Sept. 11 reported an increase in calls to children with symptoms that would question them for a coronavirus test.
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