YORK Central MP Rachael Maskell has welcomed the opening of a new coronavirus testing facility at Poppleton Park and Ride on the outskirts of the city.

The new Regional Test Centre operates a drive-through model of swab-testing and will be available to essential key workers, including all NHS and social care staff, police, fire and rescue services, and staff in the justice system, who have symptoms of coronavirus.

The testing facility has an approximated capacity of up to 500 tests per day.

York Press: York Central MP Rachael MaskellYork Central MP Rachael Maskell

Ms Maskell said: "I welcome the progress being made to ensure that all key workers in York are able to access Covid-19 tests.

"The opening of the new test centre comes at a time when the government is increasingly struggling with demand for tests for essential workers, with the self-referral website announced on Thursday April 23 crashing applications after only three hours."

A study in March found that approximately one in four NHS doctors were sick or in isolation, and the Royal College of Nursing has said that around one in five nurses have been forced to take time off to isolate themselves.

"Testing is essential to ensure that key health and social care workers can return to the frontline as soon as possible without fear of passing on the potentially deadly Covid-19 to their patients, families and colleagues," Ms Maskell added.

Those working in other key services will also have access to the centre.

Concerns have been raised regarding the difficulty of key workers who do not have cars in being able to access such testing facilities as no form of public transport is currently being offered, Ms Maskell said.

She believes possible solutions to this include self-testing through a system of tests being delivered to homes, and the setting up of mobile testing units which can deliver test kits and assist with the testing. 

She commented: "Key workers must be able to access tests quickly and conveniently so that they can assess whether they can come out of self-isolation as soon as possible. Essential workers are doing the vital work of keeping the country fed and cared for, and the government must do everything they can to help them to continue their work confidently and safely wherever possible.

"I do have concerns that those without transport will not be able to access the facility and believe that a city centre satellite testing centre should be provided to assist with this. We must guarantee that all key workers with coronavirus symptoms are able to access tests. Increased operation of mobile testing units and a system of self-testing from home must be considered.”