Second regional site boosts capacity for Coronavirus testing across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent

The announcement that a second Regional Testing Centre is to be opened for people with Coronavirus symptoms has been warmly welcomed.

The drive through centre will open at Stafford Education and Enterprise Park, Beaconside, Government has announced.

Anyone experiencing a new, continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of or change in their normal sense of smell or taste, can book an appointment on the NHS website or by calling 119 to be tested for whether they currently have coronavirus.

The first Regional Testing Centre opened at Stoke City’s bet365 Stadium on Friday of last week. That site had previously been operated as a local satellite testing centre run by CCG staff who had volunteered to return to frontline work.

Heather Johnstone, Director of Nursing and Quality for the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent CCGs said: “It is excellent news that a second testing centre is being provided in our area, following the start of operations at the bet365 stadium last week.

“Regional testing sites have a capacity to test 1,000 people per day – a huge increase on the 100 per day at local sites, which are also limited to testing health, care, local authority and emergency service workers.

“The Stafford site will offer considerably improved access for people in the south of Staffordshire and mean many more people can access testing closer to their homes.

“Beaconside was the site in the county which most closely matched the Government criteria for a regional testing centre.”

Philip Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council, said: “It is great that Staffordshire will now have its own Regional Testing Centre to compliment the other testing options that are available.

“With the slow easing of restrictions it is important that people with symptoms not only self-isolate but book a test. This facility will allow more people to be tested quickly and if they test positive enable the people they have been in close contact with to be traced to help contain the spread of infection. We continue to work with government to ensure access to testing across the county.”

A local testing site is still being operated from Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium, and will remain for as long as there is sufficient demand.

 

The national press release is below:-

 

CORONAVIRUS REGIONAL TESTING SITE TO OPEN IN STAFFORD

A drive-through coronavirus testing facility is to open at the Stafford Education & Enterprise Park, as part of the Government’s UK-wide drive to increase testing.

Anyone experiencing a new, continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of or change in their normal sense of smell or taste, can book an appointment on the NHS website or by calling 119 to be tested for whether they currently have coronavirus.  

The site sits alongside the existing network of testing sites being set up around the UK. The facility will be piloted for its first few days of operation.

The Government has more than doubled the capacity of the NHS/PHE laboratory network, set up 55 regional test centres and 116 mobile testing units, and introduced home testing kits and three Lighthouse laboratories.

Health Minister Lord Bethell said:

“The Government continues to rapidly scale up the national effort to boost testing capacity for coronavirus to protect the vulnerable, support our NHS, and ultimately save lives.

 

“This is a national effort and we are proud to be working with a number of partners to turn this ambition into a reality and roll out additional capacity to where it is needed.”

Professor John Newton, National Coordinator for the UK Coronavirus Testing Strategy, said:

“This is another opportunity to making testing easily available to anyone who needs it.  Sites like this allow people who develop symptoms to quickly get a test and find out whether they need to stay at home with their household or can safely return to work or more normal life.

 

“This whole programme has been a great example of collaboration between industries and businesses with the public sector to build the capability needed to protect the population from coronavirus.”

The testing centre is being operated in partnership with Serco and will offer assisted and self-administered tests. Those tested will receive their results within a few days.

Paul Till, Chief Operating Officer of site owner New Beacon Group said: 

“New Beacon Group, based at Stafford Enterprise Park, the former site of Staffordshire University on Beaconside, is pleased to announce that it has agreed with the DHSC to become a Covid-19 Testing Centre.”

 

“We are proud to support our government and our local population in helping through these difficult times.”

 

Heather Johnstone, Director of Nursing and Quality for the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent CCGs said:

 

“It is excellent news that a second testing centre is being provided in our area, following the start of operations at the bet365 stadium last week. The Stafford site will offer considerably improved access for people in the south of Staffordshire and mean many more people can access testing closer to their homes.”

Kevin Craven, Serco CEO for UK and Europe said: 

 

“We are pleased to be supporting the Government and the NHS in setting up and managing the new testing centre in Stafford as well as the testing centres we are already operating.  

 

“I would like to pay tribute to my colleagues who have worked extremely fast and professionally, and with the other organisations involved, to set up these centres having deployed from other roles within Serco. I know that they are proud to be doing their part in helping the country tackle coronavirus” 

 

A Boots UK spokesperson said:  

 

“Boots has been at the heart of UK healthcare for 171 years and has always come forward to support the community in times of need. Our team in Stafford is no exception. Some of our colleagues have already stepped forward to volunteer to run this COVID-19 testing station, which will start testing essential workers and people with symptoms of coronavirus on Thursday, 4 June.” 

 

In addition to the regional test sites, 116 mobile testing units operated by the Armed Forces travel around the UK to further increase access to coronavirus testing. They respond to need, travelling to test at sites including care homes, police stations and prisons. New units are being brought into operation each day.

The Government has set up a home-testing service, supported by Amazon's logistics network and other commercial partners. Home test kits can be delivered to someone’s door so they can test themselves and their family without leaving the house.