Published: 20:40, 04 September 2020
| Updated: 21:54, 04 September 2020
Covid testing staff claim they were given just a few days notice their site was closing and moving elsewhere.
Some roles have been transferred to the new location in Medway - off Curtis Way Coach Park, Rochester - but many staff have been told they were no longer required.
One worker, who we have decided not to name, told KentOnline colleagues were given a week's notice and that news of the facility opening in Rochester came "out of the blue".
The government has been under fire this week for its handling of the Test and Trace programme with many Kent residents complaining they could not access a test despite many sites in the county having capacity.
Some said they were being offered tests in places such as Edinburgh, Portsmouth and Manchester .
KentOnline understands capacity at Ebbsfleet meant around 2,000 tests per day could be carried out but had hundreds of available slots.
The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) confirmed today the Ebbsfleet site "has ceased operations" and a new regional testing site is now up and running in Rochester.
But the government did not comment on concerns raised about the way staff had been told about closing the site at Ebbsfleet, which opened in April .
More than 15 operatives are reported to have lost their jobs following the Ebbsfleet site's closure and the move to Rochester.
"We are without work at present, but the agency are working to get us alternative work elsewhere," a source said.
"Most staff will be shocked and upset at being let go as they have bills to pay and didn’t see this coming.
"We were not given much information or notice. Up above made decisions and gave us a week’s notice of the site closing.
"We found out on Wednesday and Thursday this week whether we were needed at the new site - that was out of the blue too."
The new site in Rochester - located near the fire station in Marconi Way by Rochester Airport - officially opened on Thursday with capacity for more appointments being added.
It has not yet been confirmed how many tests per day the site can carry out.
The government says its early testing sites were set up "at great speed and selected for their immediate availability, security and access".
New relocated sites are being set up to "allow the network to continue operating as long as needed", the DHSC said.
A spokesman said: "NHS Test and Trace is working, with hundreds of thousands of people being tested every day.
"We found out on Wednesday and Thursday this week whether we were needed at the new site - that was out of the blue..."
"There is a high demand for tests and to stop the spread of the virus 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.
“Regional testing slots are allocated based on the nearest testing site with availability and we are working to ensure this takes into account journey times and distance."
The government says it is making improvements to ensure patients are offered tests within 75 miles of their home from today.
It aims to expand testing capacity to 500,000 per day by the end of October and be able to process tests further.
The drive-through testing facility in Rochester will provide swab tests which take less than a minute to complete.
Medway Council’s director of public health, James Williams, said: “ This site will support the comprehensive testing programme we have in place across Kent and Medway.
"It is incredibly important that we all continue to play our part in reducing the spread of coronavirus."
Anyone with symptoms should get tested as soon as possible, continue to wash their hands regularly, wear face coverings and follow social distancing rules.
Call 119 or visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing/get-a-test-to-check-if-you-have-coronavirus to book an appointment or order a home test kit.