PCR test centres to close early despite rising Covid rates

Coronavirus test centres across the region will be closing earlier despite the health authorities battling rising infection rates.

Showell Road, Bushbury, Wolverhampton
Showell Road, Bushbury, Wolverhampton

The government said there is currently less demand for evening appointments for PCR (polymerase chain reaction) walk-in tests which are sent off to a laboratory.

Around 30 community sites including in the Black Country boroughs, Staffordshire, Wyre Forest and Shropshire currently close at 8pm, but from November 1 will be closing at 6pm.

The move comes at a time when transmission rates are rising resulting in those taking positive lateral flow test results at home or are being pinged by the Covid NHS app, need to visit walk-in facilities for PCR confirmation checks.

In addition health chiefs and MPs are urging more residents to consider taking the Covid-19 jab both to protect themselves from infection and the NHS from extra pressures over the winter months.

Wolverhampton South East MP Pat McFadden criticised the move, which affects all of England.

The Labour MP said: "I’m not sure what the justification can be for closing test centres early. One of the problems flagged up in recent weeks has been the mistaken belief that the pandemic is all behind us when it certainly is not.

"Infection rates are high compared to neighbouring countries and there are still significant numbers of people in hospital.

"As well as the vaccination booster programme it is in all our interests for a robust testing regime to remain in place and I cannot see how shorter hours contribute to that.”

Darlaston Community Association Sports & Social Club, Rough Hay

The Department for Health and Social Care stated: "We have built flexibility and scale into our services so that we can adjust quickly to changing circumstances during the pandemic and we will continue to do this.

"NHS Test and Trace works in partnership with other service management providers to operate symptomatic test sites across the UK.

"All service management providers have been informed of the decision to change future operating hours at regional and local test sites in England to 8am until 6pm from November 1 as demand for tests reduces significantly after this time.

"Twice weekly testing refers to asymptomatic testing – twice-weekly lateral flow tests.

"This has no relevance to the change in operating hours for confirmatory PCR testing sites."

Serco which operates several sites across the Black Country and in Telford & Wrekin said it was among "four companies managing test centres" on behalf of the department in England and Northern Ireland and that it operated approximately just "20 per cent of the total".

St Paul's Road, Smethwick

Sites include:

  • Wolverhampton - Railway Street/Oxford Street, Bilston; Rookery Street, Wednesfield; University of Wolverhampton, Molineux Campus, Faulkland Street; Showell Road, Bushbury; Whitmore Reans Library, Bargate Drive; Blakenhall Resource Centre, Haggar Street, Blakenhall.

  • Walsall - Darlaston Community Association Sports & Social Club, Hall Street, Rough Hay, Darlaston; University of Wolverhampton, Gorway Road Campus, Highgate.

  • Sandwell - Temple Street and Kelvin Way,West Bromwich; Jubilee car park, Powis Avenue, Tipton; St Paul's Road, Smethwick.

  • Dudley - Flood Street/Oakeywell Street, Dudley; Orchard Lane, Lye; Studley Gate, Stourbridge;

  • Kidderminster - Aggborough Stadium, Hoo Road.

  • Cannock - Beecroft Road.

  • Stafford - Weston Road.

  • Rugeley - Hagley Park School, Burnthill Lane.

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