Filey dad's struggle to get a Covid-19 test: 'I was finally given a slot today, it's 86 miles away and I don't drive'

A Filey dad struck down with coronavirus symptoms has spoken of being hit by the testing fiasco being suffered across the country.

Thursday, 17th September 2020, 12:05 pm
Updated Friday, 18th September 2020, 2:56 pm

Steve Sharman has been trying desperately since Saturday night to get a test with no luck.

When he finally got offered a slot this morning, it was 86 miles away - in Sunderland.

As Mr Sharman does not drive, he would be facing hours on public transport, while potentially infecting other commuters, or a costly taxi trip to get there.

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The 27-year-old’s nine-year-old son is one of the children in Year 4 at Filey Junior School who was asked not to come into school on Monday after a member of staff tested positive for coronavirus.

Mr Sharman said he started suffering a sore throat on Saturday and tried to book a test online that night but kept getting the message that the booking system was busy.

On Sunday, he started suffering headaches and feeling hot and cold, and yesterday had to spend all day in bed.

Steve Sharman

“I rang the doctors to see if they could help but they said they couldn’t, just to try online.

“I rang 119 and they said the same. The website just keeps saying it's busy.”

Mr Sharman, who also has a one-year-old daughter, says he has tried booking at 8pm when he has heard slots become available but has still not been able to book one.

“I tried in the early hours of yesterday and thought I was getting somewhere because I got through to where it asked me to fill in my details but then there were no walk-ins, no appointments, nothing,” he said.

“My mum lives in Whitby so I tried her postcode but there was still nothing.

“It’s daft, it’s stupid.”

This morning, while trying again, he finally reached the booking stage where he was offered a testing slot but it was in the North East.

"We don't drive so to walk it would take 27 hours," he said.

A mobile testing unit was in Scarborough yesterday and is in Whitby today but the Department of Health and Social Care has warned people to not just turn up, they must make an appointment first.

Nationally, there have been numerous reports of people struggling to book tests or being asked to travel hundreds of miles to get swabbed.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said there are plans to prioritise NHS staff for testing.

He said people in care homes would also be a priority, while schools could be considered.

There are two ways to do this depending on which testing group you are part of.

Anyone who is showing coronavirus symptoms should register for a test on the NHS website at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

People who do not have access to the internet, or who have difficulty with the digital portals, can ring the 119 service to book.

Key workers and members of their household should register for a test on the government website.

Tests can be booked at www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test-essential-workers.