‘Empty Blackburn coronavirus testing centre’ despite online demand

RESIDENTS of East Lancashire are struggling to book coronavirus tests, with one councillor reporting an empty testing centre as people cannot secure slots online.

As more people are trying to book tests, the gov.uk website instructs users to ‘try again later’.

Blackburn Cllr Jim Smith, of Mill Hill and Moorgate ward, went to visit the Penny Street car park test site which he claims was empty when he arrived.

“It just seems like madness having test centres set up ready to go which aren’t taking anybody because the system isn’t working,” he said.

“You have people who are there waiting to help people and you can’t get in to be helped. It’s ridiculous.”

He said when he spoke to staff they told him that, because of the national problems with the test numbers, people are struggling to book a slot.

The UK testing system took a hit last week as more and more people were being sent hundreds of miles for tests.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has asked people who are not displaying symptoms to stop getting tests.

This announcement has sparked all of Blackburn with Darwen’s test centres to operate on a booking only policy.

Cllr Smith’s constituents were recently removed from additional restrictions, along with other areas of Blackburn with Darwen.

He added: “The problem is people don’t know what to do, there’s so much confusion.

“Politics aside, it has been totally mishandled. There’s just so much confusion.

“There are changes day by day. What they should have done from the beginning is locked us down and that should have been it ­— instead of half lockdown. They are no good, it doesn’t work. It just seems like incompetence to me.”

The Lancashire Telegraph tried to book tests at various postcodes around the county.

All the test centres offered a home test kit at around midday, however only three of the seven postcodes we used gave the option of visiting a testing site.

After three attempts to book using a Blackburn postcode, we were able to book a home testing kit and we were able to book a test at the Royal Blackburn drive through test site, and the ACE Centre Nelson walk-through test site.

When trying to book a test in Darwen we were unable to book a slot at any drive in or walk through testing sites but we were able to book a home testing kit.

None of the tests were booked and the postcodes were used for research purposes.

The Westmorland Gazette | North Lancs