A parliamentary question lodged by Jackie Baillie MSP for Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond, has revealed that the Scottish Government has no plans for a permanent Covid-19 testing centre in either Dumbarton or Helensburgh.
The MSP has branded this decision and the response she received from the government shocking and has renewed her calls for local testing facilities.
The Scottish Government acknowledged that mobile testing hubs were provided in Helensburgh on both 27 & 28th July. The Health Secretary then stated that the nearest testing hub was in Port Glasgow in Inverclyde, “5 miles” away.
Jackie was astonished at the lack of geographical knowledge of the Scottish Government as Port Glasgow is 16 miles away by road and she can only assume that they expect local people to swim across the Clyde to get there.
Commenting Jackie Baillie MSP said:
“Our community has been hit particularly hard by the virus, we had a high number of deaths and infections, our social care staff who were working incredibly hard to protect patients had to travel to Stobhill and further afield to access testing.
“In one case a local constituent was told to travel from Dumbarton to Dunoon just to get tested, which is a considerable distance to go, especially if you are feeling ill.
“I find it shocking that the Scottish Government have no plans for local testing facilities in Helensburgh and Dumbarton. The army mobile units have been a great help in local areas, but we need permanent local testing hubs.
“We know that local testing will be key to helping identify any outbreaks and reduce the spread of Covid-19, both within our community and in care homes.
“The fact that the Scottish Government didn’t know where Port Glasgow was relative to Dumbarton tells you all you need to know.
“It’s essential that we can act quickly to prevent local outbreaks and get people back to work if they are not infected, that’s why we need local testing facilities. It’s paramount that the Scottish Government open local testing hubs immediately so that there is easy access for the whole community. ”
NOTES TO EDITOR:
See here for the Parliamentary Question and the response Jackie received from the Scottish Government.