Health minister pressed to open Bexhill Covid-19 testing centre to everyone

East Sussex health chiefs and MP Huw Merriman have called for the Bexhill Covid-19 satellite testing centre to be made available to all those who qualify for a test.

Tuesday, 19th May 2020, 1:53 pm
Huw Merriman SUS-200430-125107001

The testing centre in Wainwright Road carpark, Bexhill, has been providing coronavirus tests to NHS workers, and other key workers, since April 20 but it is not available for local people who qualify for testing.

The Government announced yesterday that anyone over the age of five can now be tested for coronavirus if they have symptoms.

People can also apply for a test if they received a clinical referral from NHS 111 online.

Local residents who have logged onto the government testing portal since April 29 in order to book a test have found that the nearest testing centre they are offered is at Brighton.

The Wainwright Road testing station, which was set up by Deloittes as part of the government testing programme but is operated by local NHS staff, is currently underused.

Local health bosses have been working with the national team responsible for testing in order to get Bexhill connected.

Due to the length of time, and lack of progress, Mr Merriman raised the issue directly with the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, and in last week’s Covid-19 debate in the House of Commons.

Speaking in the Chamber, Mr Merriman said: “For the past few weeks, my daily challenge has been to try to get our Bexhill testing centre plugged into the central link.

“If anyone from Deloitte is following proceedings, I ask them to plug our local centre in to the national link so that local people can use their nearest testing centre.”

After the debate, Mr Merriman added: “The Health Secretary has given me his assurance that this technical issue will be addressed as a matter of urgency.

“It seems ridiculous to me that local residents and our essential workers are expected to travel as far as Brighton for a test if they are feeling unwell when there is an underutilised testing centre much closer to home. I’ve received assurances that the Secretary of State is all over this issue and I hope we will have a resolution shortly.”