Lanarkshire COVID testing centre will now only open at weekends

Health chiefs in Lanarkshire have been forced to close a COVID testing centre during the week – after creating “intolerable” traffic chaos with their site location.

Residents in Cambuslang will no longer be able to be tested locally at Newton Farm primary on weekdays, despite the area being one of the worst affected in Lanarkshire for positive cases.

However there is only one access road at the site, meaning scores of locals were stuck unable to reach their homes for nearly an hour as a result.

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The fiasco saw some drivers even using the wrong side of the road to try and get out the jam, prompting claims it was an accident waiting to happen.

Now the centre will only be used at weekends, although the area itself is currently seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Locals living at Newton Farm were left furious

There were 70 positive cases in Westburn and Newton over the past, week, and the nearby Hallside, Halfway and Drumsagard ward was the worst in South Lanarkshire, with 140 positive cases – 40 ahead of the second worst ward in the county.

Lanarkshire Live was contacted by several locals who were fed up with the situation.

Cheryl Reynolds said: “This is an area with only one road in and out where residents are returning from work unable to get to their houses due to the volume of traffic.

“It was also a health and safety risk as this school is used for after school care and as a nursery until 6pm.

“I carry out healthcare risk assessments throughout Scotland for all the health boards, but also as a parent and local resident I would be interested to see the Risk Assessment paperwork for the test site as I would not have signed it off.”

Another local stated: “It took me over 45 minutes to get back home, when usually that road takes three minutes at most. The choice of location was a disaster.

“In frustration drivers were driving down the opposing side of the road from outside St Charles Primary to the roundabout at Red Deer Road and around it the wrong way as they were so frustrated by the jams.”

Clare Haughey, the Rutherglen MSP, told Lanarkshire Live that she had been contacted by numerous residents about the situation.

She said: “The testing programme is crucial to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the community, but careful consideration has to be given to local residents to avoid disruption.

“Multiple residents had been in touch with Councillor Katy Loudon and I to report major traffic issues last week, leading to us urgently contact NHS Lanarkshire and the council about the situation.

“The decision to revise the opening hours of the Newton Farm site has been a sensible one, given the level of disruption that was caused nearby.

“Another mobile testing unit is available nearby at Eastfield Lifestyles, with lateral flow tests available in local pharmacies, and it is vital for people continue to get tested to help keep infections down in the area.”

Councillor Loudon added: “Access to testing is obviously extremely important as part of the fight against the spread of the virus, but various local circumstances had created a perfect storm which led to an intolerable and potentially dangerous traffic situation for residents. “

Dr Alison Smith-Palme from the health board told us : “We would like to apologise for the disruption and any inconvenience caused. We will be providing a weekend-only service at this site going forward.

“With the recent rise in cases it is important that people take a lateral flow test twice each week. There are several ways people can get tests; from testing sites across Lanarkshire, getting kits from a pharmacy or have them delivered to your home.

“Information and advice about all the testing options is available in the NHS Lanarkshire website and the NHS Inform website.”

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