St Helens man has to drive to Scotland to get Covid test for son

A father from St Helens has slammed the government's coronavirus testing programme after he had to drive to Prestwick in Scotland to get a test for his son.

The testing site was over 200 miles away from Mike Petersen's house with the overall journey taking him around 9 hours in total.

He said: "People aren't well generally when they're getting these tests and that's quite a long time to be sat in the car.

"At some point you're going to need rest breaks, to go to the toilet, or to re-fill your petrol. That can't be good if you have people with potential symptoms of covid, it just makes no sense to me whatsoever."

There have been other reports of people being given testing sites a long way from their homes. Credit: PA

The news comes after a call handler for the NHS test and trace booking system told ITV News that the testing system is "absolutely shambolic".

She said: "The site is just not allowing anyone to complete and get an appointment. It's not good and they should be ashamed of themselves.”

The call handler continued"It's totally frustrating, absolutely frustrating. It's frustrating for them because they're not getting any further."

"They could have been on hold for an hour, they get through to us and think 'at least we'll get an appointment' and we're saying exactly what they're seeing in front of them on their screens. So, not good."

Earlier today in the House of Commons the Labour MP Maria Eagle said people with Covid-19 symptoms from her Garston and Halewood constituency have been advised to travel to Oldham, Manchester, or North Wales despite there being a nearby testing facility at Liverpool Airport.

Mr Hancock replied: "There's record testing capacity and most people get tested close to home, however, we have got this challenge that some people without symptoms who are not eligible for a test have been coming forward.

"Thus far I have been reluctant to put a barrier and a strong eligibility check on the front of the testing system because I want people with symptoms to be able to get tests as fast and as easily as possible.

"However, with this very sharp rise we've seen in the last couple of weeks of people coming forward for tests when they're not eligible, that is something we're having to look at."

Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced 'Operation Moonshot', a plan to introduce mass testing, which will be trialled in Salford. 

The government wants to see 10 million tests carried out every day from the comfort of people's homes in the hope that society could get back to normal.

However, it would rely on a test that doesn't need to be processed in a lab and scientists have warned that reliable versions of these tests do not currently exist.