Three new coronavirus pilot test centres are to open – with the first in Stoke-on-Trent – from Monday 14 September.
The pilot centre, which will be housed at Fenton Manor Sports Complex, has been put in place to respond to a continued increase in demand for coronavirus testing across the city. It also follows an appeal by Cllr Abi Brown, the Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council to the Right Honourable Matt Hancock MP and Secretary of State for Health after a number of residents had been in touch about their inability to get a test locally.
The centre will be open on Monday and Tuesday, with testing slots between 9.30am and 1.55pm – booking is by appointment only 48 hours in advance and will go live from 9.30am tomorrow (Saturday). Only 100 tests are available for each day so residents should not turn up without an appointment or they will be turned away. The pilot will then move to Burton on Wednesday and Thursday and to Stafford on Friday. If successful, more tests will be made available across both the city and county.
Appointments are only available for Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire residents who are showing symptoms of coronavirus. Those who do get an appointment should follow Covid-19 guidelines when they visit including following social distancing advice, wearing a face covering and using hand sanitiser. Attendees are also being asked to bring proof of residency in Stoke-on-Trent or Staffordshire when they are being tested. This can include a photo driving licence, bank statement within a month, most recent council tax statement and a utility bill dated within three months and can be in hard copy or via a mobile device.
The centre will remain open to leisure centre users and there will be an alternative entrance for those who are due to be tested and a strict one-way system in place to ensure the building remains Covid-secure.
Before trying to book at the pilot centre, people should first try to get a testing appointment through the national system. Bookings can be made via www.nhs.uk/coronavirus, or ringing 119, where help is available in other languages.
If not successful, booking for the local pilots is possible by 48 hours in advance on a rolling basis if you are showing coronavirus symptoms. People can book from Saturday morning at 9.30am on www.stoke.gov.uk for Fenton Manor bookings and on www.staffordshire.gov.uk for Burton and Stafford bookings.
Councillor Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: “There is an overall lack of national testing capacity and this is affecting our residents. This pilot aims to trail how local testing solutions provided by local council and health staff can work and is one of the first of its kind in the country. It is dependent on national availability of testing itself but if successful would aim to reduce issues for our residents, whether it’s lack of access to testing if they are showing symptoms, getting our children back into education quickly should they need to be tested and ensuring residents don’t have to travel hundreds of miles to understand whether they have coronavirus or not, particularly if they are unwell. If it’s successful, we’ll then look at how we can roll this out further in the city.”
Councillor Alan White, leader of Staffordshire County Council, said: “We want to do everything we can to ensure everyone in Staffordshire who has Covid-19 symptoms gets a test, as this will help us curb the spread of infection.
“We know that people have had difficulty in booking a test on the national website, so have turned around this local solution quickly to help more people who need a test get one.
“I would stress that this is a pilot scheme and slots are limited, so please try the national portal first and only book a test if you have symptoms.”
Booking information for residents making an appointment at Fenton Manor Sports Complex, City Road, Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent ST4 2RR:
• Please do not turn up if you do not have an appointment. Please try to book via the national booking system first.
• Closer parking has been arranged nearer to the testing room for those with appointments, so unless directed, please do not park on the main leisure centre car park.
• The testing room cannot be accessed through the main leisure centre entrance. Follow the signs and any marshal instructions.
• Disabled access is available for those unable to climb steps.
• Attend on your own, unless you need personal assistance or cannot arrange childcare.
• Wear a face covering throughout your visit (except as directed by medical staff) and stay 2m distance from any staff or other members of the public
• On arrival, go to the testing room directly and return home as soon as your test is complete
• Be ready to verify your identity and booking reference.
• Monday – Fenton Manor
• Tuesday – Fenton Manor
• Wednesday – Red Lion Community Centre, Rolleston Rd, Burton-on-Trent DE13 0JT
• Thursday – St Chads, Hunter St, Burton-on-Trent DE14 2SS
• Friday – Kingston Centre, Fairway, Stafford ST16 3TW.
Reporting local outbreaks or issues
• In Stoke-on-Trent
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01782 231222.
• In Staffordshire
Telephone 0300 111 8050.