A drive-through coronavirus testing facility is to open at Preston College as part of the Government’s UK-wide drive to increase testing for thousands more critical workers.
The site sits alongside a rapidly expanding network of testing sites being set up around the UK. The facility will be piloted for its first few days of operation.
This follows the launch of the Government’s partnership with universities, research institutes and companies to begin rollout of the network of new lighthouse labs and testing sites across the UK, with 27 testing sites opened to date.
This network will provide thousands more PCR swab tests – which are used to identify if you currently have the virus – for critical key workers, starting with NHS front line staff. This means those who test negative for coronavirus can return to work as soon as possible.
Health Minister Lord Bethell said:
“The Government is rapidly scaling up the national effort to boost testing capacity for coronavirus to protect the vulnerable, support our NHS, and ultimately save lives.
“This new service will help end the uncertainty of whether NHS and social care staff need to stay at home meaning those who test negative will be able to return to work.
“This is a national effort and we are proud to be working with a number of partners to turn this ambition into a reality and roll out additional capacity to where it is needed.”
Professor John Newton, National Coordinator for the UK Coronavirus Testing Strategy, said:
“New testing sites such as this one are a key pillar of our 5-pillar plan to scale up testing, and are critical in supporting NHS staff who are isolating at home to return safely to work if the test is negative.”
“This is a brilliant example of industries and businesses turning their resources to creating and rolling out mass testing at scale, which will help to deliver on our aim of carrying out 100,000 tests a day across the UK by the end of the month.”
The Preston College testing centre is being operated in partnership with G4S and Boots, and is offering self-administered and administered tests. Those tested will receive their results within a few days.
Dr Lis Smith, Preston College Principal, said:
“When our staff and learners temporarily moved to home and online working, we decided to offer whatever help we could to the NHS.
“Since 23rd March, NHS staff have been able to park on our land, and we are now proud to be able to provide the additional use of one of our car parks as a test centre at this crucial time. Whilst our contribution to the wider NHS efforts is relatively small, we feel it is important to help our community in any way that we can.”
Gordon Brockington, G4S Director said:
“We are proud of our important role in setting up and managing this Covid-19 testing site, and other similar sites across the UK. It has been inspiring to see the enthusiasm of our employees to step up and support the government, our health services and the public during this crisis.”
A Boots UK Spokesperson said:
“We feel incredibly proud to be supporting COVID-19 testing for critical workers in Preston.”
“Boots has been at the heart of UK healthcare for 171 years and has always come forward to support the community in times of need. Our team in Preston is no exception. Some of our colleagues have already stepped forward to volunteer to run this COVID-19 testing station, which will start testing its first critical workers today.”
The Government is also urgently working on setting up a home-testing service for critical key workers, supported by Amazon’s logistics network and other commercial partners.