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COVID-19 testing arrangements take shape in Morecambe Bay

Testing for Covid-19 is now available to people in Cumbria at a range of locations. Four sites can be accessed by anyone who is an essential worker, or over 65, with a further four sites currently testing health and social care staff only (including the independent and voluntary sectors).

Testing is available at sites in Penrith, Kendal, Preston and Gateshead for:.

  • all essential workers with symptoms
  • anyone over 65 with symptoms
  • anyone with symptoms whose work cannot be done from home (for example, construction workers, shop workers, emergency plumbers and delivery drivers)
  • anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus and lives with any of those identified above

Eligible health and social care staff can also access testing in Barrow, Carlisle, Kendal, Lancaster and Whitehaven. NHS Trust staff should access testing via their employer.

To be eligible for testing people must be:

  • Currently self-isolating for five days or less due to suspected COVID-19 infection, or;
  • A member of an essential worker’s household who has suspected COVID-19 infection and has been self-isolating for five days or less (which has resulted in the member of staff self-isolating as well).

The tests are not reliable on people who have had symptoms for more than five days.

Importantly, while the people can make their own bookings for Penrith, Kendal, Preston and Gateshead, as well as the Mobile Military Unit, via the national Government website, to access the Barrow, Carlisle, Kendal, Lancaster and Whitehaven sites, health and social care staff must be referred for testing by their employer.

Full details of how to access all testing available to people in Morecambe Bay can be found here.

People should check the specific advice on how each particular test centre will work, the age range eligible for testing and ensure they have an appointment. People will not be tested without an appointment. Those tested will receive their results by text within a few days.

In addition to the testing sites explained above, there is also a range of other testing activity underway. This includes:

  • Additional temporary testing facilities – including mobile testing units operated by the Ministry of Defence which are available to the local area to increase capacity where needed. The next date for a visiting Military
  • Mobile Unit is at Furness Academy in Barrow, 5 – 7 May, between 0930 to 1530. Testing here should be booked via the Government website.
  • Locally agreed arrangements to test residents of Morecambe Bay residential or nursing homes that have been developed between Public Health England, county council Directors of Public Health and the local health and care system. Community health teams perform the swabbing, and the laboratory testing is done locally.
  • NHS Trust staff are able to access testing through their own organisation.

Dr Geoff Jolliffe, Clinical Chair, Morecambe Bay CCG, said: “We now have a mix of nationally and locally-led testing facilities in place that means Morecambe Bay has good capacity to test and I would encourage those who are eligible to get tested wherever possible.

“There are a range of different ways to access testing, but in summary, people can either book their own test via the government website, or speak to their employer and ask them to book a test on their behalf at one of the other local facilities. All the information people need is on the website.”

The different sites are located at:

  • Gateshead – IKEA car park
  • Kendal – Westmorland General Hospital
  • Preston – Preston College
  • Penrith – Penrith Rugby Club
  • Barrow – Furness General Hospital (health and social care only, employer referral required)
  • Carlisle – Carleton Clinic (health and social care only, employer referral required)
  • Lancaster – Royal Lancaster Infirmary (health and social care only, employer referral required)
  • Whitehaven – Copeland Red Hub at Flatt Walk (health and social care only, employer referral required)

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