‘Ridiculous and unfair’ – Stevenage mum told to drive 140 miles for COVID-19 test

PUBLISHED: 12:31 16 September 2020 | UPDATED: 12:35 16 September 2020

A single parent from Stevenage has shared her experience of trying to get a COVID-19 test. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

A single parent from Stevenage has shared her experience of trying to get a COVID-19 test. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

A single parent in Stevenage has described the current COVID–19 testing situation as “a total joke”, after she was told to drive more than 73 miles to her nearest available drive-in test centre.

Angharad was told her nearest test cetnre would require a 140 mile round trip to Warwickshire. Picture: SuppliedAngharad was told her nearest test cetnre would require a 140 mile round trip to Warwickshire. Picture: Supplied

Angharad Binns, who lives in Great Ashby, had tried to book a COVID–19 test for herself and three children after her daughter displayed coronavirus symptoms on Friday.

Angharad says when she tried booking through the online portal last week she was instructed to go to her nearest drive-through test site – which was 73 miles away in Atherstone, Warwickshire.

She said: “I thought how ridiculous and unfair if you have unwell children. You are expected to drive a 140 mile round trip. It’s a total joke and highly stressful.

“I’m a single parent of three, with one of my children living with disabilities. It’s just not acceptable.”

After multiple days of trying to arrange a test, she was given a drive-in slot in Milton Keynes and is currently awaiting the test results.

“I finally got one, but Milton Keynes still isn’t a short trip.

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“I’m confident on motorways but I can see a lot of people not going for tests because of the lack of local availability.”

Earlier this year, mobile COVID-19 testing sites were set up in Stevenage and in Welwyn Garden City.

Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, shared her thoughts on the situation on Twitter.

She said: “People here [in Stevenage] being sent to Warwickshire for tests, or can’t book them at all, while our own test centre is empty.

“It’s utter chaos. Hancock must go.”

Yesterday, we at the Comet also tried to use the online test booking system ourselves.

We tried using a Stevenage, SG1 3DF, Hatfield, AL10 0DP, and Cambridge post code – CB22 6RN. All of these queries were directed to the nearest mobile testing site in Spalding, more than 60 miles and an hour and a half’s drive away.

When we tried booking a drive-through or walk-in test with the same post code five minutes later, we were told there were “no test sites found”. This remained the case for the next five hours.

We also tried post codes in neighbouring Buckinghamshire, and were instructed to drive to Birmingham for the nearest available test.


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