Published: 15:51, 17 September 2020
| Updated: 16:47, 17 September 2020
"Dreadful" coronavirus testing problems must be addressed, councillors say - as plans are announced for three new walk-in centres.
Kent County Council's (KCC) health and overview scrutiny committee met earlier today as they discussed worrying signs of future local lockdowns and growing issues around testing accessibility.
Maidstone county councillor Dan Daley (Lib Dem) says one Kent resident was recently sent from "pillar to post" to three different testing sites, including Ebbsfleet station which KentOnline revealed shut down last week for a Brexit lorry park despite having capacity for 2,000 tests.
He told NHS bosses: "We have heard the most dreadful things of people being sent up to Dunfermline or Wales when they live in Kent."
Thanet county councillor Karen Constantine questioned whether there were "contingencies" in place to keep health services running in the event of a second lockdown while Cllr Daley asked for a list "properly" indicating where local Covid stations are to be made easily available for residents to find.
"Otherwise people who are possibly infected already with Covid already are chasing around the countryside, probably infecting other people before they have got their test," Cllr Daley added.
This comes amid confusion over timings around plans to set up three new walk-in Covid test sites in Gravesham, Thanet and Folkestone after the first opened in Canterbury's Rutherford car park two weekends ago.
A regional testing site at Manston Airport in Ramsgate has sat "largely empty" while another drive-through site is available at Ashford's Victoria Road car park.
In Medway, a new centre opened in Curtis Way, Rochester last week and Kent public health officials say this forms part of a drive to improve the accessibility of testing for communities as nearly 4,000 daily cases have been recorded across the UK in the latest government figures.
But, Whitehall bosses continue to come under fire for a major backlog of tests amid a rising demand due to students returning to school while people are encouraged to return to the office.
Caroline Selkirk, Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group's (CCG) head of health improvement, said"enormous" work was being put in place to support care homes if infections rise, including ensuring those requiring treatment are transported safely to hospital, while also pledging to maintain online and phone GP consultations.
The committee was told that some health services may have to put on hold in the event of a second lockdown while Cllr Daley's request on Covid testing was said to be a matter for local public health directors.
Ms Selkirk told the 16-person committee: "They lead on test on trace and it is a perfectly reasonable question to ask but I think they would be the most appropriate people to provide that information."
Ashford county councillor Paul Bartlett (Con), who is KCC's health and overview scrutiny chairman, said he would discuss this issue with KCC's public health director Andrew Scott-Clark after the public meeting later today.