'Shambolic' Covid testing system slammed as Welsh families forced to travel to England

Concerns have been raised over the availability of coronavirus tests in Wales after some have complained about being forced to travel for hours to get one.

It comes as a father-of-two from Machynlleth in Powys travelled for more than two hours to Telford with his children to get them a coronavirus test - only to find the site had run out.

Steve Hynd had booked tests for his two young children when they both developed coughs. After finding there were no available local appointments, they booked in for tests at a centre more than two hours away.

When he and his family arrived at the site in Telford, there were "traffic jams, there was chaos" and people were being turned away, according to Mr Hynd.

It was then that apologetic staff told them that they had run out of tests.

Mr Hynd told ITV's Good Morning Britain "It was (an) incredibly mixed picture what was happening. Very confused, a lot of people upset, but essentially we were told that the site was just closed,” he said.

He described the UK Government testing policy as "incompetent" and "utterly shambolic" - and is urging the government to give more clarity in their messaging about COVID-19 tests.

"Ultimately the incompetence that I see from this track and trace system is going to lead to more deaths and I think we just need to be honest about that and ministers need to be held to account for that", he said.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer used Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday to express concern over the availability of testing in the country.

Boris Johnson pledged the UK government will "do more" Credit: PA

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Johnson said: "The issue at the moment is there has been a massive increase in the number of people who need or want a test and particularly people who don't have symptoms.

"We will do more and the world we want to move to as fast as possible is a world in which... everybody can take enabling tests at the beginning of the day, an antigen test, to identify whether or not we have the virus or not."

Joseph was sent home from school with coronavirus symptoms Credit: Robyn Banning

Another family were forced to travel almost 100 miles from Newport to Exeter after their 12-year-old son developed Covid symptoms.

Joseph was sent home from St Julian's High School on Tuesday morning and his parents were told their nearest available testing centre was in Exeter.

Joseph's family spoke to ITV News about their experience of getting a coronavirus test for him

They travelled through the evening in order to get the test done. The family are now self-isolating until they receive the results.

Joseph's grandfather Steve said it it was "worrying" they were unable to get a test for Joseph in Wales.

"It's just ridiculous - we are a devolved government. I watch Mark Drakeford saying 'we would do the best for Wales' and what are we? A third world country?"Surely, even in Newport, it is a city of hundreds of thousands of people. Surely, someone could do a test for a 12-year-old lad?"

Joseph lives with autism and his family added the journey added unnecessary stress.

"It was very daunting for Joseph. It's just not fair. We didn't get home until 9pm. It's got to be done, but it was a really disappointing situation that we had to go that far", his mother's partner Robyn told ITV Wales.

"We essentially took an appointment from someone in Exeter - when we could've had one in our home city."

Concerns have been raised about the availability of tests in Wales Credit: PA

Steve added, "Even if we got sent to Cardiff or Swansea, at least you're in your country. But, the only four options were all over the border in England. We're a devolved government - so who is running the show here?"

"The whole thing appears to be a right mess. From the rules to testing, I think they have handled it abysmally. The UK Government and the Welsh Government".

The Welsh Government said it has raised the issue with the UK Government and expect them to be "resolved quickly to ensure people in Wales who have suspected coronavirus symptoms can receive a test as close to home as possible." 

“We have recently announced £32m to increase capacity to process tests at laboratories in Wales, which includes extending our regional labs to 24-hour operation and six new “hot labs” at hospitals across Wales. This investment will increase our testing resilience ahead of the winter.”