Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton constituency, has written to Jeane Freeman, Cabinet Secretary for Health, asking for urgent action to be taken regarding permanent Covid-19 testing facilities in the local area.
This follows Jackie Baillie being contacted by a number of constituents who have encountered problems when attempting to access tests for themselves and their children. In the last few weeks, ocal residents have been advised to travel to Dunoon, Prestwick Airport and as far as Edinburgh Airport to access testing for their sick children. Last week the position got even worse, with local parents being referred to Carlisle and Belfast to get their children tested.
When a mobile testing unit was stationed in Helensburgh from 27-28 July, parents were turned away having been told that children could not be tested at the site. This is despite parents already having submitted the dates of birth of those seeking tests to the unit prior to the visit.
Schools are insisting that children with symptoms are tested before being allowed to return to school, as a precaution, so the capacity for testing needs to be ramped up urgently. At this time of year many young people will have the common cold but schools naturally want to minimise risk. Being able to test quickly is important to the young person being able to resume school and to their family who have work commitments.
Jackie Baillie has repeatedly called on the Scottish Government to create permanent testing units in Helensburgh, the Vale of Leven or Dumbarton. West Dunbartonshire has been particularly badly affected by Covid-19 with the number of cases and deaths, being among some of the highest in Scotland.
Jackie Baillie MSP said:
“The experiences that some local people have had when attempting to access testing are extremely disappointing.
“I have spoken to parents who have children with dangerously high temperatures who have been forced to make four hour round trips to Dunoon which includes sizeable ferry costs.
“Our area has been one of the hardest hit by Covid-19. It is irresponsible of the Scottish Government not to ensure that there is easy access to tests to avoid further outbreaks. I have written to Jeane Freeman asking for urgent action to provide local testing facilities.
“Access to local testing facilities is key to managing to contain the spread of Covid-19. Asking people to go to Carlisle and Belfast is utter nonsense and the Scottish Government need to get a grip of this quickly.”