Councils in Staffordshire are responding to the national shortage of coronavirus testing capacity by setting up a community test centre.
The centre is believed to be the first of its kind in the country. It was set up after thousands of people have struggled to get a test and the government admitted that the UK doesn't have enough coronavirus testing capacity.
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 the government.
The community testing centre will run in addition to other regional and mobile test centres. It'll be operated by local NHS workers and it'll move across the county.
In Stoke-on-Trent, the centre will 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.
Before trying to book at the 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.
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 wash 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."