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Londoner directed to Highlands for Covid-19 coronavirus test


By Louise Glen

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Covid-19 drive through tests are available by appointment at Raigmore Hospital.
Covid-19 drive through tests are available by appointment at Raigmore Hospital.

People booking coronavirus tests through the government’s website are apparently being regularly directed to centres hundreds of miles away – with one man in London being offered a test in the Highlands.

Tweeting about his experience, a journalist in London said he has been offered a test in Inverness – a round trip of almost 1000 miles.

Harry Wallop, a freelance consumer journalist, tweeted from account @hwallop : "For those that don’t believe that north Londoners are being told to drive 440 miles to the Highlands to get Covid tested..."

He posted a screenshot of a message telling him that his nearest test centre is at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Inverness.

Mr Wallop is not alone.

Teacher Fergus MacKinnon (25), from Glasgow, was also offered a test in Inverness – a 340-mile round trip – though he said this was still easier than his next try when he was offered Belfast, before he was shown a screen that said "There is a problem".

He said: "I decided to take my chances and have a test in Inverness. I got the results earlier this morning. It was quick and efficient – if you don't count the day I put aside, with my partner, to drive to Inverness and drive home while self-isolating.

"I don't have Covid, otherwise I could have spread it up and down the country."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘NHS Test and Trace is working, it’s completely free and testing centres are open for people to book a test if they need one.

"There has been high demand for appointments at some sites, but more will be available to book every day and home testing kits can still be ordered."

NHS Highland said testing was a matter for the Scottish Government.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish Government was opening 11 new walk-through testing centres to keep up with demand.

She said: “On the issue of capacity...we’ve always known that there will be fluctuations in demand for testing. That’s why we have contingency plans in place and these contingency plans are already, as we speak, being activated.

"We will continue to implement these plans to further increase capacity as we head into winter, as we have always been preparing to do.

"But we will also continue work to ensure appropriate contingencies are in place for periods when we have higher than expected demand for testing – which is likely to happen as we go into winter."

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