Local test centre pilots put in place to help residents who have symptoms of coronavirus get access to testing are set to be extended in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire next week.
The community testing centres have been set up following a national shortage of capacity and are in addition to regional and mobile test centres. They are being run by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Staffordshire County Council and a number of health partners to provide a local solution for those who are unable to get a test. It also follows confirmation that five people tested positive for coronavirus on day one of the pilot at Fenton Manor Sports Complex on Monday (14 September).
In Stoke-on-Trent, the centre will again be housed at Fenton Manor Sports Complex on 21 and 22 September. It will be open for bookable test appointments between 9.30am and 2pm. Only 100 tests are available each day so residents are urged not to turn up without an appointment. Residents are also being reminded that due to the shortage of tests, if they are successful in their booking, they need to make every effort to turn up. Testing will move to Burton on Wednesday and Thursday and to Stafford on Friday.
The booking line for appointments goes live from 9.30am on Saturday (19 September) and is bookable 48 hours in advance for anyone with symptoms. Before trying to book at the pilot centre, people should first try to get a testing appointment through the national system. Bookings can be made via www.nhs.uk/coronavirus, or ringing 119, where help is available in other languages.
If not successful, booking for the local pilots is possible 48 hours in advance on a rolling basis if you are showing coronavirus symptoms. People can book from Saturday (19 September) at 9.30am on www.stoke.gov.uk for Fenton Manor bookings and on www.staffordshire.gov.uk for Burton and Stafford bookings. If residents do need to cancel their booking, they are urged to please follow the instruction on their confirmation.
Councillor Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: “Two hundred more people in Stoke-on-Trent were tested last week than they would have otherwise as a result of our first pilot. It worked well and I’m really pleased that again, after a lot of hard work, we are able to provide local solutions for people in the city over and above the testing being provided by government.
“Due to our tests on Monday last week, 86 more people were able to go back to work or school. With areas like the North East in lock-down with not too dissimilar case numbers than we have, we have a finite time to do everything we can before we could see lock down imposed on us. We want to avoid this at all costs – we want to keep our children in school and we want to keep our economy moving. Providing additional testing capacity helps with this and I’d urge all residents to continue to do the right thing, follow the new ‘rule of six’ guidance, keep socially distanced and let’s work together to kick coronavirus out of Stoke-on-Trent.”
Alan White, Staffordshire County Council’s Leader, said: “Together with our partners in Stoke-on-Trent, we have stepped up to offer a local solution and I am delighted to see the pilot scheme extended for another week and hopefully longer.
“We want to ensure as many people as possible who need a test in the city and county get one and we are working with the Government to actively find ways to increase availability of testing for local people with symptoms.
“I would also remind people that slots are very limited, so please don’t book a test unless you really need one.”
Jacquie Ashdown, director of public health at Stoke-on-Trent City Council, added: “People following the guidance makes all the difference in tackling this virus. Please make sure you keep your distance, follow the rule of six, wear a face covering and keep up with your hand hygiene and regularly washing your hands. Along with testing, these actions are our only real ammunition we as residents have to tackle the spread of Covid and help to reduce the chances of a local lockdown. This is our chance to make a difference.”