Revealed: Postcode lottery on covid tests leads some facing 6 hour round trips

One region of 6 million people has no testing sites.

As new figures reveal that thousands of people are being forced to travel long distances to access coronavirus tests, Left Foot Forward decided to find out which areas of the country are worst hit.

So we entered our details on the government’s website as a non-essential worker with coronavirus symptoms and a car, looking for the nearest drive-through test centre.

Then, using a random postcode generator, we entered a series of postcodes. Here’s what we found.

Lancaster36 miles

From a postcode in the centre of Lancaster, the nearest drive-through centre is 36 miles away (as the crow flies) in Bolton. That’s a 50 minute drive down the M6.

Cambridge – 58 miles

From the village of Waterbeach, near Cambridge, you have to travel all the way to a lorry park in Catford, South-East London. That’s an hour and 45 minutes if you leave at 11am. During rush hour, it can be up to two and a half hours as you get stuck in the Blackwall Tunnel under the Thames.

Dumfries and Galloway – 18 miles

Dumfries and Galloway residents are relatively lucky. It’s only a 30 minute drive from the village of Beattock to a dentist’s car park in Dumfries, where there’s a mobile testing site.

Sutton – 9 miles

The distance from Sutton to this lorry park in Catford is just 9 miles but takes 40 minutes in good traffic. Leave at 5pm and Google Maps says it can take up to an hour and fifteen minutes, as you crawl through South London’s suburbs.

Norfolk – No test sites found

If you’re in Lowestoft, on Norfolk’s coast, there’s no drive-through or walk-in sites available. Plug in a postcode for Norwich, the biggest city in the county and you get the same result. Put in Ipswich (50 miles south) and you are advised to go to the lorry park in Catford. From Lowestoft to Catford is a drive of nearly three hours.

Milton Keynes – 48 miles

If you live in Milton Keynes, it’s an 80-minute drive to Solihull. Failing that, it’s a two-hour trip to that lorry park in Catford.

Cumbria – 36 miles

From the coastal town of Whitehaven, it’s a 90-minute drive past Carlisle and over the Scottish border to the same dentist’s car park in Dumfries mentioned above.

Cheadle – 16 miles

People in Greater Manchester are relatively lucky. If you’re in Cheadle, it’s ‘just’ a 30-minute drive on Manchester’s ring road to Bolton.

Joe Lo is a co-editor of Left Foot Forward

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