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Maidstone nurse in need of Covid-19 test before returning to work said nearest appointment was in Cardiff

A Maidstone nurse needing a Covid-19 test was told the nearest centre with available appointments was 190 miles away in Wales.

After a holiday in Cornwall, Laura Luntraru, who works in Sutton Valence Care Home, needed to produce a negative test before being allowed back.

Laura Luntraru works at Sutton Valence Care Home
Laura Luntraru works at Sutton Valence Care Home

When the mum of two tried to register online to book an appointment, she was shocked to find the nearest test centre available was in Cardiff.

After several attempts to book online, Mrs Luntraru took it upon herself to drive to her nearest drive-through testing centre at Mid Kent College in Maidstone.

When she arrived she was turned away because she didn't have an appointment - even though the car park was empty.

The 39-year-old said: "It has been impossible to get a test. All I want is to get back to work.

"I've already lost five days' work which I won't get paid for.

The centre in Mid Kent College was empty. Picture: Laura Luntraru
The centre in Mid Kent College was empty. Picture: Laura Luntraru

"I have to pay my bills, my rent. My older daughter is going to university and I need to support her and next month I won't get enough money.

"It's not fair. I'm a key worker, I'm supposed to be on duty so I can do my job but I can't do that because I can't get a test.

"It's frustrating to see the car parks empty when no tests are available online."

Mrs Luntraru, from Tonbridge Road, then travelled another 70 miles on a round trip to a testing site in Bexhill, East Sussex.

She said: "I travelled there on Friday to see if they could test me and I managed to get it done but they lost my results so I was back at square one.

"At work we all get tested every two weeks but the next test wasn't due until next Friday, September 18 and I couldn't wait that long.

Appointments are needed to visit drive through test centres
Appointments are needed to visit drive through test centres

"In the end my work was brilliant, they managed to get me an earlier test because of all the trouble I've been having but they shouldn't have had to, they really went out of their way to do that."

Mrs Luntraru now has to wait up to five days for her results.

Information on the Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Groups's (CCG) website says the NHS test and trace team have informed them of disruptions to tests across the UK.

It urges anyone in the county in need of a test to 'keep trying' when looking online as they are still available in each area.

The Department for Health and Social Care spokesman 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.

“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.”

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

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