Confusion as Government portal sends people to testing site that does not exist

Tony Diver
·2-min read
A drive through testing centre in Leicester that does exist -  Joe Giddens/PA
A drive through testing centre in Leicester that does exist - Joe Giddens/PA
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter

The Government’s test and trace system faced fresh criticism this weekend after officials admitted they had sent dozens of people to a testing centre that did not exist.

People with coronavirus symptoms in Kent were directed by the Government’s testing portal to a mobile testing centre at a former park and ride site in Sevenoaks, only to find the gates locked and the car park empty.

The Telegraph understands there was originally a mobile testing centre earmarked for the site, but it was never actually established.

Worried members of the public were then directed to a real testing centre to be swabbed for the virus.

Bryan Shaw, who drove from his home in Stansted to the empty car park, said: "The last thing you need when you are feeling ill is a wasted journey.

"I have emailed the Prime Minister to let him know how disgusted I am."

Richard Baker, who works nearby, told the Telegraph dozens of people had come into his business looking for the centre.

“I suppose it’s a bit embarrassing for the Government,” he said.

A Kent County Council spokesman said responsibility for the mix-up lay with officials in Whitehall, not council officers.

“Unfortunately, while the Department for Health and Social Care has put arrangements in place for test bookings to be taken on the national booking website, for an unknown reason, the mobile testing unit had not been deployed to the site,” the spokesman said.

"We regret the inconvenience caused to residents who made appointments and have made a wasted journey and advise those people with bookings to arrange a postal test, or rebook at another site.

"We are trying to find out from the DHSC what went wrong to remedy the situation to ensure a testing unit is deployed there as soon as possible."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘’We are aware of an issue with a testing site in Sevenoaks this weekend, which has now been resolved and anyone affected was contacted and redirected to another site the same day."