Hundreds turned away from Covid-19 testing centre in Southend

Tap above to watch video report by Simon Harris

Hundreds of people were turned away from a Covid-19 test centre in Essex on Tuesday as demand for the service outstripped supply.

Some parents who couldn't get a test in Southend had been queueing from 7am and said they were unable to work or send their children to school.

"A family crossed over to the car park as I was getting out and the lady said to me I wouldn't even bother getting in the queue - we've been turned away after queueing half an hour already because there are no more available tests," said Sherri Ponsford who lives nearby.

People being turned away told ITV News it was because the government had recently restricted the number of tests allowed. It means when the doors open in the morning it's a case of first come first served.

Queues at a Covid-19 testing centre in Southend, Essex

John Reynolds was due to have eye surgery and had to prove he was not infected but could not get a test. "I think it's ridiculous! It's absolutely broke," he said.

Southend Council said it didn't know the centre was offering tests for people who just turn up on the day.

"That's the first we've heard as a council about that service being offered. All the advice we have been told to disseminate is that people should only turn up if they have an appointment," said council leader Ian Gilbert.

The Health Secretary told the Commons the challenge was "enormous" after a sharp rise in people wanting a test.

"The whole house knows there are operational challenges and we are working hard to fix them," said Matt Hancock.