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Labour councillor slams 'shambolic handling' of coronavirus testing in King's Lynn

Queries have been raised in response to health secretary Matt Hancock's exchange with North West Norfolk MP James Wild in parliament yesterday with regards to a test centre in Lynn.

West Norfolk Labour councillor Jo Rust has said the area is in "deep trouble" if the local MP is unaware of the existing testing facilities in the town.

She was responding to Mr Wild asking the health secretary if he could look into his request for an improved testing facility in the town.

West Norfolk Council's deputy leader of the Labour group Jo Rust
West Norfolk Council's deputy leader of the Labour group Jo Rust

Mrs Rust said: "I think it’s astounding that the MP asks a question in the House of Commons about situating a testing facility here, not knowing we already have one. Yet is he really to blame?

"Just because he doesn’t go through the area like I do to actually see it and the signs that were up isn’t necessarily an indication that he’s a poor MP.

"But it most definitely is an indication that the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. I wouldn’t necessarily expect Matt Hancock to know each and every sight off the top of his head, but we’re in deep trouble when neither of them knows and nor do most other people."

Many residents have expressed frustration over having to travel to Peterborough and Norwich to obtain a test.

But Mrs Rust believes more people should be able to use the site at Lynnsport.

She said: "The concerns people have voiced are about the testing in general and the apparent lack of access to it.

"The fact that signs are being taken down [from Tennyson Avenue] to make it harder for people to find and the total lack of awareness about the testing facility at Lynnsport is just a part of the overall shambolic handling of this whole matter."

Lynn residents have posted on our Facebook page regarding their struggles to get a test.

One said he has been struggling to obtain a test since lunchtime on Friday due to his child being sent home from school.

The parent has been unable to book a test and said: “Well I would have better luck winning the lottery than getting a test.”

Another commented that the NHS website told him there were no slots available. He visited the mobile centre at Lynnsport instead where a test was possible on the day.

There have also been reports of a testing facility at Downham being empty amid the struggles for people to get tested.

John Evans said he had been informed online that there were no available test centres in his area.

"About an hour later I went into Downham Market and they've re-opened the testing site in the car park at the sports ground on Lynn Road - by my satnav that's 2.1 miles from here.

"Problem is it's not a drive-in now. If you're not registered, they won't test you. Needless to say, the place was deserted.

"Catch-22? You can't be tested without being registered but you can't register. You couldn't make it up."

The MP has acknowledged there have been problems for residents and has raised the need for a permanent testing facility in the town, rather than a mobile one, with the Department of Health and Mr Hancock.

Mr Wild said: "More tests are being carried out in the UK than other comparable countries including Germany, France, and Spain.

"However, due to increased demand there have been problems getting tests in part due to the return of schools.

"Constituents have contacted me as they have been unable to get a slot, been required to travel long distances, or turned up at the mobile testing sites including in Hunstanton and been turned away because they didn’t have a QR code.

"This is incredibly frustrating and concerning when people are anxious to know if they, or their children, have the virus.

"I have raised these issues with the Department of Health and the local NHS, as well as in the House of Commons with the Health Secretary.

"I also pressed him on considering carefully the case I’ve made for a permanent test centre – rather than just a mobile site – for the public in King’s Lynn as part of the plans to expand capacity.

"If you have symptoms then register for a test – if none are available the advice is to leave it for a few hours and then try again as more slots are added regularly.

"One of the features of Covid-19 is that we continue to develop greater understanding of the effect of the virus."

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