Horsham parents hit out at ‘ridiculous’ lack of Covid tests in West Sussex
Horsham parents have hit out at a lack of Covid test appointments in West Sussex as ‘ridiculous.’
Some say they have been told to travel as far as Scotland to get tested.
One Horsham mum said her daughter was offered a test in Inverness and another was told she could have an appointment in Dundee - and yet another on the Isle of Wight.
They spoke out following reports of a ‘covid test crisis’ in West Sussex.
Kasia Greenwood and her husband Richard suffered a nightmare experience after their daughter started feeling unwell just two days back at her Horsham playgroup last Wednesday.
She went to bed with a cough and high temperature. “My husband and I immediately notified my daughter’s playgroup and my son’s school and started looking for a Covid test,” said Kasia.
But it was the start of an agonising search. “After filling in a tedious online form we were notified that there were no home test kits available and were advised we should book an appointment at a drive-through or walk-through testing site.
“We entered our postcode and there were no appointments available for either of them. This was incredibly frustrating.
“We were fairly confident my daughter just had a cold, which she always picks up very easily, but because she was displaying Covid symptoms our whole family had to isolate for 14 days. This included my son who had only been back in school for three days.”
The couple spent the whole of the following day from 6am trying to book a test but were continually told there were none available.
At one point they discovered available appointments at Gatwick and Dorking and tried to book one but were thwarted by website problems which left them unsure if an appointment had actually been made - only to discover later that it had not.
Kasia tried phoning a helpline and was on hold for half an hour before getting through - and was then told to try again on the website by constantly refreshing the test booking page.
Meanwhile, they investigated private healthcare but discovered it would cost £400. “Of course this was not an affordable option for us,” said Kasia.
In desperation, the couple began that evening to set an alarm to go off every hour through the night so that they could check to see if a test slot had become available.
However, to their relief, they finally managed to get an appointment in Brighton the following day.
“There is absolutely no way we would have secured an appointment if we hadn’t been glued to our phones all day or simply got lucky with the timing, which is not only frustrating but also incredibly difficult when you have a job or young children to care for,” said Kasia.
“I also fully appreciate that I was one of the lucky ones who actually did manage to get an appointment and at worst we’d just have been stuck at home for two weeks.
“I can’t imagine having to go through this with someone who was really ill or who was high risk.”
She added: “Not only should we have had track and trace up and running months ago to effectively handle the pandemic, I’m also angry that a competent testing system wasn’t put into place as a priority for when schools returned.
“It was inevitable that after months apart and as we approach winter, the usual bugs and illnesses are going to spread like mad.
“And every time that a child develops a bad cough or high temperature, that’s another family in isolation for 14 days, unless they can secure for themselves a sought-after appointment within five days.
“I’m also well aware that my family will probably have to go through this again in the coming winter months, and I’m dreading it.”