A PENSIONER with health issues was told his nearest drive-through coronavirus testing centre was 500 miles away from his Dorset home.
Stephen Feltham lives in Bournemouth on the south coast – but when he tried to book a test in Poole, just six miles away, he was told he’d have to travel to Perth in Scotland instead.
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The 73-year-old, a type-two diabetic with high blood-pressure, said he called 119 – the NHS number for testing – and discovered tests had run out.
“I phoned 119 and spoke to a very nice bloke who asked for my postcode,” he told the Bournemouth Echo.
“Then he said there was a test available in Perth.
“I don’t know if it was a mistake – I said, ‘I don’t even want to holiday up there’.”
The 1,000-mile round trip would take at least 16 hours by car, without any breaks.
Mr Feltham eventually managed to book a test at the site in Creekmoor, Poole – and when he arrived, he was the only client for 30 staff members.
“All the staff were very courteous,” he said.
“I’ve since had my test back and it’s negative.
“As for the staff at Creekmoor, everything was perfect – but I was the only one there.
“My test must have cost thousands of pounds.
“I think everyone is doing their best – my experience with them trying to send me to Perth isn’t a major issue.
“But having 30 people looking after one client is an issue.”
The Creekmoor site has faced a series of issues, including reports that hundreds of cars were turned away.
It comes amid a series of problems with testing in the UK.
Labs are working through a backlog of hundreds of thousands of samples, while Brits queue for hours to get tests.
Yesterday, whistle-blowers for NHS Test and Trace claimed the service doesn’t work – and some say they haven’t dealt with a single case.
The service in England was branded a “shambles” from the first day of operation back in May when staff were unable to log into the system.
Meanwhile, chaos has hit the long-delayed NHS app as it emerged up to half of users can’t upload their coronavirus test results.
Yesterday, new coronavirus cases in the UK rose by 4,044 – the first drop in infections for a fortnight.
Another 13 people lost their lives to the deadly bug.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers – which represents all NHS Trusts in England – said NHS Test and Trace “has now become as important in a sense as catching criminals, fighting fires and treating heart attacks”.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “NHS test and trace is one of the largest testing and contact tracing systems in the world.
“The service is working hard to break chains of transmission, with almost half a million people who may otherwise have unknowingly spread coronavirus contacted and told to isolate.”