New coronavirus testing centre for NHS and care sector workers

Date published: 15 April 2020

A new coronavirus testing centre for NHS and care sector workers has been set up in Rochdale.

The facility, at Hopwood Hall College, has been installed close to the town centre so staff do not have to travel to the regional site at Manchester Airport.

Borough health officials felt the journey to the airport was too long and those without cars would find it ‘extremely difficult’ to get there.

Based on the college’s Rochdale campus car park, it began operating on Tuesday and will be able to carry out around 40 tests per day.

The tests are for workers who have had coronavirus – or were displaying symptoms – and now want to return to work if it is safe to do so.

Staff will have to be referred by their employer and testing is strictly by appointment only.

The government has faced strong criticism for not testing as extensively as other countries, but now says it is ‘on track’ to carry out 100,000 tests per day by the end of the month.

Councillor Sara Rowbotham, Rochdale council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, has explained the need for the borough to have its own testing facility for key workers.

She said: “All of the agencies in Rochdale felt it was important that our local NHS and care staff had somewhere closer to go for testing than the regional Manchester Airport facility, which can be difficult for people without a car to access from this part of the region.

“We also wanted to increase the number of tests being completed for frontline workers. The facility will help staff who are on the frontline of fighting this terrible virus return to work more quickly and provide reassurance that they are doing so without the risk of spreading coronavirus. 

“We are doing all that we can to stop the spread of the virus while protecting staff and those who are most vulnerable to it and creating this facility is part of that work.”

Earlier this month a ‘hot hub’ coronavirus assessment centre was set up at Tesco Extra, in Middleton, for members of the public referred there by the NHS 111 helpline number.

As with the facility for NHS and care workers, it operates on a strictly appointment-only basis.

Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter

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