Coronavirus: Ill child offered Covid-19 test 200 miles from home

Published
Related Topics
image copyrightFamily photo
image captionTwo-year-old Grace tested negative for coronavirus after attending a centre in Cardiff

A father says he was asked to travel more than 200 miles to get a Covid-19 test for his unwell toddler.

TV presenter Will Millard used the UK government website on 27 August after his daughter Grace, two, developed a high temperature.

Mr Millard, from Sully, Vale of Glamorgan, was offered a test in Blackburn, Lancashire, before his health board booked a test in Cardiff.

The UK government has said areas with outbreaks are being made a priority.

The 37-year-old said: "I didn't think she had coronavirus but the rules are dead clear - if someone has a temperature then you get a test."

He added he was keen for her to be tested as his father, who had been shielding, was due to visit and health visitors were also due to visit his new baby son.

He was surprised when told the closest available test was so far away: "I thought it was a mistake," he said.

"I assumed there was something wrong with the website so I rang 111, who directed me to 119 but they said they were getting the same.

"I said 'can you post me one' and they said there were no postal tests available."

image copyrightFamily photo
image captionWill Millard says he found the experience had "frustrating"

He decided to tweet Public Health Wales about his predicament.

"I noticed on Twitter there were people from Bristol complaining they had been sent to Cardiff for their test," he said.

He continued searching and at 17:00 was offered a test in Nottingham, and at about 20:00 he found a test in Weston-Super-Mare in Somerset, which he booked.

Then Fiona Kinghorn, executive director of Cardiff and Vale health board, contacted him on Twitter and arranged for him to go to one of the community testing centres in Cardiff the next day.

"We turned up at 09:05 and had test result by 16:50 that night. It couldn't have been easier."

His daughter's test came back negative.

image copyrightReuters
image captionTesting in priority areas has led to shortages elsewhere

"The government are putting a lot of pressure on people to follow the rules," he said.

"People can go to do the right thing but if the government aren't keeping up their end of the bargain - you can't expect people to get in the car with a sick child and drive to Manchester."

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "The UK government experienced a spike in demand for testing through their lighthouse labs over the weekend, which led to reduced capacity for processing tests across the UK.

"The UK government has assured us they are working on increasing capacity and expect these issues to be resolved shortly."

The UK government has said prioritising coronavirus testing in high-risk areas has led to shortages in other places, leading to some people with symptoms being asked to drive more than 100 miles for a swab.

It said areas with fewer Covid-19 cases have had their testing capacity reduced to cope with outbreaks elsewhere.

But Paul Hunter, a public health expert at the University of East Anglia, said these issues could act as "big disincentive to being tested" and result in missing local increases "early enough to maybe stop more widespread infection".

People in Wales, like the rest of the UK, can make a booking for a coronavirus test at a drive-through centre or a mobile unit.

Wales also has community testing units, which are operated by the local health boards, where health care workers have priority

There are also eight mobile units in Wales operated by the military.

More on this story