The first of what is hoped will be a number of new testing facilities across Dorset is opening in Bournemouth, to help keep Dorset residents safe and provide better access to testing for local communities that find it hard to reach the Creekmoor site.
Currently, local people are served by the regional testing centre at Creekmoor (only accessible by car) and mobile testing units that visit Weymouth, Bridport and Dorchester on a rotating basis, accessible by both car and on foot. All tests must be booked in advance via the national portal.
From Wednesday 21 October, the mobile testing unit will be calling at Wallisdown in Bournemouth. It operates from 10am – 3pm and the scheduled days will vary, with availability posted on the national test booking facility, as this is the only way to gain appointments at the unit. Signage will also be in place.
Sam Crowe, Director of Public Health Dorset explains, “As we are seeing numbers rise, it is critical that cases are identified as quickly as possible to help control the spread of the virus. Accessible testing is extremely important and we are therefore making applications to the government for local test sites in the county that our local communities can also walk to.”
In addition, a new type of Department of Health and Social Care testing facility, known as Local Testing Sites (LTS), will soon be available.
LTS are accessed by foot and are typically in place for a minimum of three months. LTS are designed to be situated in residential areas, highly populated locations or neighbourhoods with low car ownership. The first local testing site in Dorset is due to open at Lansdowne in Bournemouth later this month, with the Health Protection Board planning applications for further sites in due course. As with the regional testing site and mobile testing units, all appointments need to be booked online in advance.
Councillor Nicola Greene, BCP Council portfolio holder for Covid Resilience, Public Health and Education. said, “It is great that we have the regional testing centre in Poole, but many people don’t have access to a car and may find it difficult to access. I’m very pleased that we will be seeing additional testing locations at both Wallisdown and Lansdowne, and hope that additional locations are able to be requested by the Health Protection Board very soon.”