A frustrated mother has spoken out after being told she has to drive 100 miles to get a coronavirus test for both herself and her young daughter.
Moz Bulbeck Reynolds, from West Berkshire, said she has been unable to send her nine-year-old daughter Matilda to school this week because she has symptoms of a cold and has been unable to get a test.
Having stayed at home last Thursday and Friday, Matilda was refused entry to the school on Monday until she received a test, as per the local council’s rules.
The school has said Matilda either needs to be tested or quarantined for 10 days.
Having initially being unable to book a test, despite trying “almost constantly”, Ms Bulbeck Reynolds told Yahoo News UK that she has finally been given a slot – at a testing centre in Cardiff, which is 100 miles from her home.
When asked about her daughter, she said: “She is perfectly fine. She was ready to go back to school yesterday.
“However I now have her school yard lurgy and have to drive a 200 mile round trip in peak hour traffic today.”
Ms Bulbeck Reynolds said that both she and her daughter are to be tested, adding: “I will be drinking coffee and keeping the window down.
“It’s an entirely stupid scenario. My husband has to work so he can’t drive me.”
Access to tests
The case comes as people across England have reported struggling to access coronavirus tests.
Dozens told the BBC that they were unable to book a swab test, while the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said testing capacity was being targeted at areas where coronavirus cases have risen.
In West Berkshire, there have been 549 cases of coronavirus cases from 7 March to 10 September.
The 100-mile drive to Cardiff is above the maximum 75 miles health secretary Matt Hancock said people should be driving for a test.
Yahoo News UK has contacted the DHSC for a comment.
‘Not fit for purpose’
Ms Bulbeck Reynolds’ experience does not appear to be unique as a father revealed he has been trying for 48 hours to book a COVID test after his young son started showing symptoms on Sunday.
Samuel Austin, from Faversham, Kent, told the PA news agency: “Everything we submit we get ‘this service is very busy. Please try later’ or if we get through to finding a test site, we are told no site is available to see us.”
He described the testing process as “not fit for purpose”, adding: “Ultimately my disappointment is for my son and my wife… I feel powerless to help them and it shouldn’t be this way.”
The situation has meant Mr Austin’s son cannot return to nursery and left his wife, a nurse at a local hospice, unable to work.
“As this hospice isn’t NHS she is not allowed to use the frontline channels for receiving a test,” Mr Austin added.
“Even though she has worked throughout the lockdown covering extra shifts where needed due to her hospice having the disease.”
Last week Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood Helen Hayes branded test and trace a “shambles” after saying her constituents were having difficulty accessing coronavirus tests.
Her comments came after she was tweeted by a Twitter user who said the government website was saying no home tests were available.
A DHSC last week told Yahoo News UK it had not run out of tests but that it could “pause the booking portal for short periods” during periods of high demand.