NHS heroes are STILL being tested at snail’s pace at shambolic drive-through centres – The Sun

NHS heroes are still being tested for corona­virus at a snail’s pace at shambolic drive-through centres.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove pledged to speed up the process when The Sun on Sunday exposed red tape hold-ups at a test site a week ago.

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But our investigators have found nurses and carers are still being turned away by centre jobsworths sticking to strict appointment-only rules.

And Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s pledge of 100,000 tests a day by the end of April looked doomed with a current daily rate of 18,000, just 7,000 more than a week earlier.

Experts say Britain will remain on crippling lockdown until testing can be ramped up to protect NHS staff and allow virus-free people to move around freely.

But our team saw testing at a virtual standstill at “tumbleweed” centres across Britain.
At CHESSINGTON in South West London, four purpose-built booths were quiet after a morning rush of 30 NHS staff.

As few as three cars an hour arrived — and testing stopped for an hour’s lunch break while frontline NHS staff are working to the brink of exhaustion saving lives.

A source at the site, ringed by Army guards, said: “If you don’t have an appointment, you are turned away. Sometimes we get members of the public thinking they can be checked but we send them away.”

One nurse said as she left: “It surprised me that it was closing for lunch. I expected it to be working full-tilt. There are 500,000 of us at the sharp end. I just don’t get how we are all going to be tested.'”

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At the WEMBLEY test centre, next to an Ikea in North West London, a morning rush dwindled to 25 per hour. Some cars did U-turns after spotting the “by appointment only” sign.

At the site in NORTH GREENWICH, South London, only 125 people were seen arriving on Friday morning. Guards told NHS staff to keep windows up to avoid infection. By lunchtime only one or two people arrived every five minutes.

One vehicle was turned away when an NHS worker was unable to show an email inviting them to be checked.

At Edgbaston cricket stadium in BIRMINGHAM, only one car arrived every 20 minutes on Friday.

A palliative care nurse said: “It’s not very busy in there. It was easy to get an appointment. The test only takes a few minutes. They swab your nose and throat and we get results in two to three days.”

Healthcare assistant Sarah Rivers, 44, was one of the few tested without an appointment. She said: “I’ve had symptoms and just turned up.”

Only the Boots HQ site in NOTTINGHAM bucked the disturbing trend. Cars queued up in three lanes for tests in five gazebos and around 100 an hour were completed.

At the 18,000-tests-a-day rate confirmed by health chiefs yesterday, it would take nine years to test everyone in the UK. But officials insist the 100,000 target will be reachable when new super-labs in Milton Keynes, Glasgow and Cheshire open soon.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “Some sites are still in the pilot phase. We are committed to make sure every key health and care worker can be tested.

“More than 27,000 frontline NHS staff and their family members have been tested but we want to go even further.”

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