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Mobile coronavirus testing idea for Bucks

The closest facility at the moment is at Gatwick.

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Oliver Sirrell at 5:50am 27th April 2020. 3-minute read.

Mobile coronavirus testing idea for Bucks

A mobile coronavirus testing unit could be coming to Buckinghamshire.

Discussions are taking place to set up a new hub where healthcare staff can be tested as many from the area are forced to drive more than two hours to be tested at Gatwick.

Rachel Shimmin, Buckinghamshire Council’s chief executive, said:

“One of the things we are looking at is the potential for a mobile testing unit because for lots of care staff, these aren’t people who are paid huge amounts of money or who have easy access to their own transport.

“We are in [a health area] called BOB [which groups Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire], and [each health area is] allocated a testing unit.

“Ours happens to be Gatwick, which clearly is not terribly helpful.

“The Milton Keynes option would be much more helpful for people living in that part of the county towards the north.

“But I think the mobile testing unit would be really helpful.”

Bucks / Buckinghamshire Council
The issue was discussed by councillors last week

The chief executive told councillors discussions are taking place with NHS bosses to co-ordinate testing that “shouldn’t be on the basis of artificial health boundaries”.

Councillor Martin Tett added:

“Gatwick is a particularly long way for care workers and Milton Keynes is so much nearer.

“It’s really important we have a facility we can actually get our staff to that’s reasonably nearby.”

This comes as the council steps up its efforts to get personal protective equipment (PPE) to those who need it.

Speaking to councillors during the new authority’s first cabinet meeting, Rachel Shimmin told members a joint store of equipment for healthcare and social care workers was set up early on in the crisis.

The council is in regular contact with care homes to know if they have difficulty accessing PPE.

Joint work between schools, businesses and other organisations saw the chief executive deliver gowns and other PPE to Stoke Mandeville hospital last week.

Ms Shimmin said:

“We have been working proactively to make sure anybody who needs PPE can get it.”

Councillors also praised the work undertaken to transform part of Stoke Mandeville stadium into a reablement centre with 240 beds.

Social care chief Angle Macpherson said:

“Staff have worked incredibly hard to do this in less than three weeks and it’s already helped a number of people to recover from illness and be discharged back home.

“It provides us with a brilliant capacity so we can make sure every vulnerable person is looked after in the safest possible environment.”

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