THE PARENT of a child with coronavirus symptoms living in Dudley borough has hit out after being offered Leicester as the nearest Covid-19 test centre.

A parent living in Stourbridge, who did not wish to be named, said they had gone online at the site to book a test after their daughter became ill with a high temperature.

The system showed the nearest test centre with appointments was Leicester - a 124-mile round trip - despite there being a test centre in Oakeywell Street, Dudley.

There are also three test centres in neighbouring borough Sandwell - in Oldbury, Smethwick and West Bromwich.

They then called the helpline number 119 and were told again that Leicester was the closest and to try again later - which they did, but found the same result.

After searching online they found a walk-in test centre in Mountford Lane, Bilston, where their child was tested without an appointment.

Stourbridge News:

The parent said: “Why was I not offered the Bilston option on the government website?

“When we got there it was not busy.

“It’s ridiculous that you’re told if someone in your family has symptoms the whole household has to isolate until they get a test and the results come back negative - but you can’t get a test.

“There’s no way I was going to drive my sick child on a two hour forty minute round-trip to Leicester.

“I can’t believe all the test centres locally were fully booked.”

The child’s test result came back negative and their parents and siblings were able to return to work/primary school.

The Government is facing mounting criticism after reports of numerous people with symptoms being unable to get a test or being told they have to travel long distances.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has blamed people without symptoms for putting the system under strain by booking unnecessary tests.

The test centre in Oakeywell Street (off Flood Street, Dudley) was due to close today (Wednesday September 9) with one in Engine Lane, Brierley Hill, set to open tomorrow (Thursday September 10) and stay open until September 29.

A spokesman for Dudley Council said of the Engine Lane test centre: “Booking by appointment through the government website is desirable, however there are some walk-in appointments - this however cannot be guaranteed and residents may be turned away.”

Councillor Nicolas Barlow, Dudley Council’s cabinet member for health and adult social care, said: “This is a national issue and not just something that is happening in Dudley. The council has no control over testing. It is down to the lack of tests, and the capacity in labs to cope with the demand.

“We have raised our concerns through several channels including the NHS, Public Health England and the Department of Health & Social Care.

“To help control the demand, we would ask that only people who are displaying symptoms of coronavirus should book a test."

They need to do this by persevering with the national testing website to book an appointment at a local centre, or to have a home test sent out.

“Once the test is taken, residents need to follow national guidance on isolation until the results are received.”

In Sandwell there is a drive-through and walk-through test site in Oldbury (accessed from the A457 Dudley Road) and walk-through test centres at St Paul’s Road car park in Smethwick and West Bromwich (on part of a car park accessed from Temple Street).

A spokesman for Sandwell Council said: “Appointments must be booked in advance.

“People can’t just turn up, they must book a test via the NHS website or by calling 119.”

The spokesman said: “We are aware some people have experienced problems booking a local test in recent days.

“This is a national issue and we have been informed that the Government’s testing team are working to rectify the situation.

“They are advising people that, if a test is not immediately available, or the location or time are not convenient, people should try again in a few hours, either by following the link below or by contacting the 119 helpline if internet access is an issue.

“In the meantime, In Sandwell we have contingency plans in place to support schools to access testing, as they have also faced delays in the last few days.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “NHS Test and Trace is working, our capacity is the highest it has ever been and our laboratories are processing more than a million tests a week.

“We are seeing a significant demand for tests but if you have symptoms we urge you to get tested. New booking slots and homes testing kits are made available daily and you can help protect yourself if you wash your hands, cover your face and make space.

“We are targeting testing capacity at the areas that need it most, including those where there is an outbreak, as well as prioritising at-risk groups and we recently announced new laboratory facilities and new technology to process results even faster.”

A spokesman for Wolverhampton City Council said: "The Mountford Lane Test Centre in Bilston is currently appointment only."

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 – book a test at or by calling 119. Coronavirus symptoms are a high temperature; a new, continuous cough; or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.