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Updated Letter: Finding a Test Site is a World-Beating Test of Your Patience, Or Temper

Published on: 15 Sep, 2020
Updated on: 15 Sep, 2020

Paul Kassell

In response to: I Gave Up Trying to Get A Covid Test

Yesterday my wife was examined by her GP, who was wearing full protective clothing and mask, and told to take a test.

Since five o’clock last night I have been trying to book a test for her.

Getting on to the website itself was extremely difficult. We were greeted with a message saying it was very busy.

When we finally got through this hurdle, the system told us “No sites found”. From here, the continue button sends you round and round. Pressing the “Find A Test Site” button gets no response 70% of the time.

Early this morning, we were offered a home-test kit. Having filled in all the details and gone through an identity check, we received the message “There was a problem with your order”.

The site is poorly designed and has little explanation about why there are no sites available. Presumably, this is a problem with the laboratory workloads rather than lack of sites. There are warnings not to ring the testing service on 119 because you will not get a test this way.

A truly world-beating service.

Mr Kassell adds:

Further to my letter earlier today, at 10am my wife was offered a test at Chessington (17 miles away, and 17 hours after first trying). When we arrived, a young lady said there was no record of my car, my wife or my appointment so I produced a website print-out of my appointment.

The young lady said: “I am sorry, the website is rubbish. We are getting a lot of this today, There is absolutely nothing I can do.” But she suggested I get a letter from our GP, as that “trumps all”.

I have now applied for a private test for my wife (£150), I am also trying to speak to our GP and trying to rebook another test. I hope that somewhere there is a test.

No wonder Matt Hancock says there is spare capacity in the system.

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Responses to Updated Letter: Finding a Test Site is a World-Beating Test of Your Patience, Or Temper

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    September 15, 2020 at 10:46 am

    I also wonder why GBC is posting announcements of “pop-up” test centres eg Sutherland Park.

    You still have to go through the frustrating appointment system Paul Kassell describes, so whether there is a pop-up or normal centre eg Onslow Park & Ride seems a bit irrelevant, if the system is overloaded.

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    September 15, 2020 at 11:00 am

    In defence of those actually carrying out the testing, I must say once I did manage to get a test, the service was impeccable, and entirely safe.

    At the site I went to in Camberley, you are asked to remain in the car, and call a number which connects you to a staff member outside your car, who gives instructions as to what to do next. You are then asked to crack the passenger window an inch to receive the test package. The instructions direct you in how to self-test. Once done, you move onto to the next station, where you crack the window again, and deposit the sample into a bin.

    All very thorough. Just too bad the system to book a test is letting the whole thing down.

  3. Paul Kassell Reply

    September 16, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    Last night, just after 6pm, I was offered Brixton for a test for my wife. I turned this down and was then offered Epsom, which I accepted. I got the confirmation of booking as before, but was then sent back to the start again.

    This time, I went through the process from scratch and was offered Godalming, which I again accepted and then got through to a page that gave me a QR code.

    Even though the website tells you you have an appointment it is very important not to attend without the QR code or an email telling you you have a confirmed appointment.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Jules that, once you are through the website, the staff at the centre are friendly courteous and very understanding and the operation is smooth and efficient.

    • John Perkins Reply

      September 16, 2020 at 10:14 pm

      What happens if your ink is low and the QR code cannot be read?

      Editor’s note: From personal experience, the QR code can be shown on smartphones and tablets too. Whilst not everyone is so equipped it reduces the risk of a QR code not being available.

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