A mum has branded coronavirus testing facilities a farce after claims she was turned away from an empty site at Manchester Airport.
Annalee Wood has been trying to get a test for the last 24 hours, after her 11-year-old daughter was sent home from her school in Stockport with a cold.
She has been told her daughter cannot return to school until she has completed the isolation period, or obtained a negative test.
Annalee phoned the 119 help line on Thursday and was on hold for an hour, only to be told the nearest available test centre was Sheffield.
After agreeing to drive there, she was then told that there were no longer any appointments that afternoon for the whole country.
The mum phoned a friend who works for the NHS, and was told to try the drive-through test centre at Manchester Airport.
“My friend told me she went to the site last week without an appointment and was seen straight away,” Annalee told the M.E.N.
“I went and there were about 30 staff on site that I could see, but there was nobody there to be tested – it was completely empty.
“They refused to give me a test unless I had a QR code and told me it was now government policy to have a QR code to get a test.
“I asked them how I could get a code since 119 didn’t even give me the option of Manchester Airport, and they told me they didn’t know.
“They said the last appointment they had given out was last Friday – nearly a week ago.”
Earlier this week, the Director of Testing for the NHS Test and Trace said laboratory processing in the country had now reached a “critical pinch-point.”
Widespread testing delays have been reported across Greater Manchester since schools reopened last week.
“I understand there has been a back-log in the laboratories which is causing problems, but if that’s the case why are so many staff still on site,” Annalee said.
“I just think it’s outrageous. I can’t send my daughter back to school without getting a test.
“She has just started Year 7 and hasn’t even been back for a week yet and I just don’t know when I’ll be able to get her a test.
“I am now off work and my partner is too. We have just come back from three months of furlough and now this.”
Annalee says she tried 119 again this morning and was told she could book an appointment for Birmingham or Chester.
“I feel like I’m being backed into a corner because I want my daughter to go back to school,” she said.
“It’s not just the inconvenience it’s the cost as well. It’s going to cost me a day off work and at least £40 in petrol to get there.
“I am 99 per cent sure she doesn’t have coronavirus but if she did I am in a car with her driving around all these different sites. It’s a complete farce.
“This pandemic started in March and it is now September and they still haven’t got this right.”
The Department of Health and Social Care say there has been no reduction in national testing capacity, and that test sites in areas with higher infection rates will be prioritised.
A DHSC spokesperson said: “NHS Test and Trace is working and our capacity is the highest it has ever been but we are seeing a significant demand for tests including from people who do not have symptoms and are not otherwise eligible.
“New booking slots and home testing kits are made available daily for those who need them and we are targeting testing capacity at the areas that need it most, including those where there is an outbreak, and prioritising at-risk groups.
“Our laboratories are processing more than a million tests a week and we recently announced new facilities and technology to process results even faster.
“If you do not have symptoms and are not eligible to get a test you can continue to protect yourself if you wash your hands, wear a face covering and follow social distancing rules.”