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Call for Covid-19 test centre to be set up for Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge key workers

PUBLISHED: 16:00 24 April 2020

MPs and council leaders have written to the health secretary demanding a Covid-19 test centre. Picture: Aaron Chwon/PA

MPs and council leaders have written to the health secretary demanding a Covid-19 test centre. Picture: Aaron Chwon/PA

PA Wire/PA Images

A group of MPs and council leaders has written to the health secretary demanding a Covid-19 test centre.

Barking and Dagenham and Redbridge town hall leaders joined MPs Jon Cruddas, Margaret Hodge, Andrew Rosindell and Wes Streeting along with London Assembly member Unmesh Desai to request a testing facility to improve access for key workers.

In a letter to Matt Hancock dated April 24, they state: “It is our view that without the availability of a local testing facility, we will not be able to effectively provide the best care possible for our residents who become ill, support hospitals to maintain essential services and ensure ongoing support for people who are ill in our communities.”

The letter, also co-signed by Darren Rodwell and Jas Athwal, states that many key workers rely on public transport to get around.

But the ease of key workers getting to existing and planned swab-testing sites risks a low uptake of the testing programme.

The politicians say that it is a priority for a centre to be set up to provide easier access for key workers. Picture: Joe Giddens/PAThe politicians say that it is a priority for a centre to be set up to provide easier access for key workers. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA

They add that it is “a priority” for a centre to be set up to provide easier access for key workers.

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The politicians describe Barking Community Hospital as the “ideal place” for a testing facility, pointing out that it was used as drive-through swabbing hub by North East London NHS Foundation Trust during the containment phase of the pandemic.

The government announced on April 17 that access to testing would be extended to include more frontline workers including council, NHS, police, fire and rescue staff.

Essential workers with symptoms had been offered the opportunity of booking tests online, but the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) was forced to apologise today (April 24) after they ran out.

People who live with essential workers and have symptoms have also been offered tests.

The department tweeted that it continues to “rapidly increase” the availability of tests saying more would be ready tomorrow (April 25).

There have been 31 regional testing sites set up and run by the DHSC across the UK, as of April 23.

This includes The O2 Arena car park, Lee Valley Athletics Centre and Stansted Airport.


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