A father was left stunned after seeing hundreds of people standing in a ‘five-hour’ queue waiting for Covid tests at a walk-in centre in Manchester.
Tony Kirvin, 43, needed to get his son Michael tested after the 14-year-old started showing mild symptoms and was sent home from school.
The nearest testing centre was a 120-mile round trip, which he said was not feasible, so Mr Kirvin instead drove to a walk-in centre near their home in Bury on Thursday.
But he was shocked to see hundreds of people queuing up outside the Mosses Centre, with many not wearing masks, video footage shows.
It comes amid wider complaints that the NHS Test and Trace system is directing people to Covid-19 test centres hundreds of miles away from their homes.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock recently claimed that an ‘unacceptable’ number of people were overloading the UK’s coronavirus testing system by asking for a test when they don’t have symptoms.
Tony Kirvin, 43, was shocked to see hundreds waiting in a ‘five hour’ queue for Covid tests at Mosses Centre in Bury, Manchester, on Thursday
While filming the queue, Mr Kirvin says: ‘This guys is the queue for the walk-in Covid centre in Bury. Look at the f***ing size of this queue.
‘Jesus f***ing christ it just goes on and on and on. No wonder we are in the middle of a pandemic.’
Mr Kirvin said his wife was told there was ‘no chance’ they would get into the centre as the wait was at least five hours.
He added that there was ‘absolutely no way’ they could join the line as his son, who has autism, would have ‘had a meltdown’ standing in a queue for that long.
The father-of-four said: ‘We couldn’t find a test anywhere until I saw this walk-in place.
‘But when we arrived the queue was huge – there must have been at least 100 people.
‘My son is autistic, no way he could stand in a queue that long. He’d have a melt down.
‘It’s just shocking to see, but not surprising considering schools have been reopened and we’ve had the eat out to help out scheme.
‘It was inevitable.’
The full-time carer managed to get a test for his son at the Heywood site and is set to receive the results in the next two days.
The father-of-four filmed the lengthy queue after driving his 14-year-old son Michael to get a test because he was sent home from school after developing mild symptoms
Councillor Andrea Simpson, Bury Council Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: ‘Bury has opened a number of walk-through testing centres to improve access and options for local people that are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, additional sites are due to open very soon.
‘Demand for testing is increasing at a national level and in response to this, having these local testing options helps to meet this demand locally.
‘As a result of this demand, our walk-through centres have become increasingly busy, and whilst the centres will test as many symptomatic people as possible, at busy times, there may be a wait, and if demand is very high people may be asked to consider other testing options.
‘It’s really important that our walk-through centres are reserved for people who are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, many people coming to the centres have no symptoms.
‘People not experiencing symptoms should not request a test and will not be tested at the centres.
‘For people with symptoms coming to one of the centres, it is important to stay a safe distance from other people and to wear a face covering on the journey to and from the site.’
The nearest testing centre was a 120-mile round trip, which Mr Kirvin said was not feasible, so he instead drove to a walk-in centre near their home but was faced with shocking queues
It comes amid complaints that the NHS Test and Trace system is directing people to Covid-19 test centres up to 175 miles (281km) away from their homes.
People with coronavirus symptoms who try to book a test online have reported being told to drive three hours to reach their ‘nearest’ centre.
And some of them have had to drive past closer testing centres on their way to the farther ones because of a flaw in the Government’s booking system.
In one example, a person from Ilfracombe in Devon could be instructed to make the mammoth journey to a test centre in Swansea, across the Bristol Channel.
It would see them drive 175 miles each way, past their nearest drive-through in Taunton, 61 miles (98km) away, as well as Bristol and Cardiff on their six-and-a-half hour round trip.
A person from Ilfracombe in Devon is directed to a test centre in Swansea, across the Bristol Channel. It would see them drive 175 miles both ways, past their nearest drive-through in Taunton, 61 miles (98km) away. People with coronavirus symptoms in Felixstowe, Suffolk, have been directed to Clacton-on-Sea in Essex, 40 miles (64km) away, despite there being a centre in Ipswich. A person in Gosport, Portsmouth, is directed to the test site at Chessington World of Adventures, in Greater London, a 67-mile (108km) journey. But the closest testing site is just 11 miles away (17.7km), in Portsmouth city
Charlie Ledington, of Worcester, had to keep her five children off school because she was unable to book an appointment for her youngest child Chloe, two.
She was repeatedly told the system was busy when she began trying on Wednesday.
At 11pm she was offered a test at a centre in Wales, a four-hour drive away – only to be told there was no availability when she tried to confirm it.
The following day she was offered spaces in Droitwich, Bristol and Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, only to be told again no appointments were available.
‘It’s a mess. I’ve had to keep my children off school. We all have had to isolate for ten days now,’ she said.
Brighton Kemptown Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle said: ‘This is after they closed the Brighton testing centre. Absolute shambles.’
A Department of Health spokesman said it was ‘targeting testing capacity at the areas that need it most’, adding: ‘Our capacity is the highest it has ever been and our laboratories are processing more than a million tests a week.’
Labour said problems with the booking system should be resolved as a ‘matter of urgency’.
The website flaw is the latest in a stream of criticism against the NHS Test and Trace system, which is considered key to getting Britain back on its feet.
Statistics show the success of contact tracing has dwindled every since its launch at the end of May, with less Covid-19 patients and their contacts picking up the phone.
The Government recently decided to axe 6,000 call handlers to bolster local health teams instead, after it was revealed tax-paid employees were being ‘paid to watch Netflix’.
The failings heap fresh doubt on whether Boris Johnson’s ‘Operation Moonshot’ strategy is possible.
The ambitious £100billion scheme aims to carry out millions of tests every day by early next year.
It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock claimed that an ‘unacceptable’ number of people are overloading the UK’s coronavirus testing system by asking for a test when they don’t have symptoms.
He warned there has been a 25 per cent spike in requests from those without symptoms, meaning many who need them cannot get tests.
‘Of people who got symptoms, 92 per cent got a test within ten miles of (their home),’ he told the Today programme.
‘The reason we have constraints at the moment is not because capacity has gone down, it’s because demand has gone up.
‘For instance, I’ve heard stories of whole schools been told to get a test and all pupils. That is not what testing is there for.’
Hancock also said he’d heard of cases of people requesting coronavirus tests because they were going on holiday and wanted to find out whether they had the virus.
Testing capacity has recently been cranked up across the UK to ‘record highs’ but it is still meant to only be available for people who have coronavirus symptoms.
MailOnline found that it was possible to order a coronavirus test, even if you didn’t have coronavirus symptoms, by filling in a request form online saying that you’d been asked to take one.