Haydock racecourse to become coronavirus test centre for NHS staff

A drive in coronavirus testing centre for frontline NHS workers is set to open at Haydock Park racecourse.

The plan is part of the government's drive to massively increase testing for frontline workers, preventing key staff from having to self-isolate if they do not have the disease.

The site at Haydock Park is part of a network of testing centres being set up around the UK, and will operate on an appointment basis for self-isolating key NHS workers, or a member of their family showing symptoms of the illness.

The workers will be selected and contacted directly by their NHS Trust.

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The Haydock Racecourse Testing Centre is being staffed by G4S and operated in partnership with Boots.

Lord Du Mesnil leading the way during his victory in The Last Fling Chase at Haydock Park racecourse on December 30 2019 Picture courtesy of The Jockey Club

It provides up to 5 drive-through lanes, in operation from 9am to 5pm, and is being piloted for its first few days of operation.

The news follows the launch of the Government’s partnership with universities, research institutes and companies to begin rollout of the network of new labs and field testing sites across the UK, with 13 new testing centres opened so far.

A statement from the Department of Health and Social Care said: "This network will provide thousands more PCR swab tests, which are used to identify if you currently have the virus, for critical key workers – starting with NHS front line staff.

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"This means those who test negative for coronavirus can return to work as soon as possible, and those who test positive are able to recover."

Health Minister and Tory Peer Lord James Bethell said: "The Government is rapidly scaling up the national effort to boost testing capacity for coronavirus to protect the vulnerable, support our NHS, and ultimately save lives.

Staff wait to test National Health Service (NHS) workers for Coronavirus

"This new service will help end the uncertainty of whether NHS and social care staff need to stay at home meaning those who test negative will be able to return to work.

"This is a national effort and we are proud to be working with a number of partners to turn this ambition into a reality and roll out additional capacity to where it is needed.”

Professor John Newton, National Co-ordinator for the UK Coronavirus Testing Strategy, said: "New testing sites such as this one are a key pillar of our 5-pillar plan to scale up testing, and are critical in supporting NHS staff who are isolating at home to return safely to work if the test is negative.

"This is a brilliant example of industries and businesses turning their resources to creating and rolling out mass testing at scale, which will help to deliver on our aim of carrying out 100,000 tests a day in England by the end of the month.”

Key workers tested at the drive in centres will receive their test results within a few days.

Samples from the testing sites will be analysed at new labs that have been set up in Milton Keynes, Alderley Park and Glasgow, using Thermo Fisher Scientific test machines loaned by universities across the country and by public sector research centres.

The Government is also working on setting up a home-testing service for critical key workers, supported by Amazon's logistics network and other commercial partners.

Gordon Brockington, G4S Director said: "We are proud of our important role in setting up and managing this Covid-19 testing site, and other similar sites across the UK.

"It has been inspiring to see the enthusiasm of our employees to step up and support the government, our health services and the public during this crisis.”

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