A TEST Valley man has slammed the coronavirus test booking system after being offered a test 73 miles away from his home.

Andy Milligan, who lives in Borden Way, North Baddesley, tried to book a test for his seven-year-old daughter Aoife on Monday, but was shocked to discover the nearest test site was in Haywards Heath, Sussex.

Now the 34-year-old has criticised the Government's online system, claiming children will be in and out of school "like yo-yos" if residents cannot access local test sites.

However, a spokesperson from the Department of Health & Social Care hit back at the claims, stating their capacity is "the highest it has ever been", adding their laboratories are processing "more than a million tests a week".

Romsey Advertiser: The tweet Andy sent to the Department of Health & Social Care and Caroline NokesThe tweet Andy sent to the Department of Health & Social Care and Caroline Nokes

Andy, who is a project manager for an airspace company, said: "Aoife went back to North Baddesley Junior School on Thursday and then on Monday she got this cough, which persisted until Tuesday morning, so we looked as quickly as we could on the Government website and it said the nearest one was in Haywards Heath; it was absurd.

"That was when I had my little Twitter rant and, to her credit, Caroline Nokes picked it up quickly after I emailed her and told me to keep trying.

"I think there was a drive-in test centre at Paultons Park, but that is shutdown now, so we had to go to Salisbury for 1pm which was a pain in the backside."

He added: "The feedback I gave to Caroline was, from our point of view, we have three children and our two-year-old is now back in nursery; she has not had a cold since before lockdown started, so we know in the winter she will be hit with everything going and children that age get temperatures all of the time.

"I am very supportive of getting children back to school, but this will only work if we have quick and local testing available, otherwise children will be in and out of school like yo-yos.

"I think there is a glitch in the system, because I know there are test sites closer than Haywards Heath and I had to sit there on my computer for two hours pressing refresh."

Andy stressed his family in Northern Ireland had the same problem last week after his father was initially offered a slot at a site that would have meant making a "two hour round-trip".

However, after two hours of refreshing the page he managed to bag an appointment that was "20 minutes away".

He also criticised the way the Salisbury test centre was run, claiming there were more than "20 members of staff" and in the 30 minutes he was at the site he only saw "one person" being attended to.

Andy added he is yet to receive his daughter's test results.  

A spokesperson from the Department of Health & Social Care 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 and you can help protect yourself if you wash your hands, cover your face and make space.

“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.”