A FAMILY was told they would have to drive 470 miles to get a Covid test after being unable to book an appointment in the city.

Frustrated dad Keith Dicken made several attempts to book a coronavirus test for his seven-year-old son Thomas, who had woken up for school with a temperature and sore throat, only to find he would be forced to travel to Scotland or Wales to get one.

After waiting for hours in front of the computer and several more failed attempts to book a test in Worcester, Mr Dicken was told the nearest testing facility would be around 470 miles in Inverness if he fancied the nine-hour drive.

Mr Dicken, 42, from Lower Wick in Worcester, tried to get a test at the drive-thru facility at Sixways but was turned away and told to book online.

The dad-of-two then had to bite the bullet and book the day off work to drive his family to Powys in Wales for the prized test.

“It has been an absolute nightmare,” he said. “My son had a temperature and runny nose on Tuesday morning when he was getting ready to go to school, so we phoned the school who told us to go and get him tested.

“I tried all morning to book a test and couldn’t get one, so I booked some time off work and drove to Sixways where I was told it had to be done online. I managed to book a place in Powys in Wales, which is at least 60 miles away.

“We ended up all getting tested but the results came back inconclusive. “My daughter was supposed to start school on Friday but she won’t be allowed in until my son has his results back.”

Mr Dicken was unimpressed with the booking system for tests which not only gave him locations hundreds of miles away but regularly showed slots available that vanished when you went to book them.

“The other problem is when you go to book a test, the website will say there are 20 or 30 slots available but when you go onto it there is nothing to book, no time slots at all,” he added.

“We’re now stuck in a position where we can’t send our children to school because even though they are perfectly well and happy and playing, we just don’t have the test to back up the fact that they are Covid-free. We’ll need to leave it at least two weeks if we can’t get a test.”

“It’s very frustrating.” Mr Dicken said problems were compounded when he visited the test centres in Worcester and Wales to find that they were not working at full capacity – despite the nightmare he had endured trying to find a single time slot.

“It might just be my perception but when I went to the testing centre [at Sixways] it didn’t seem that busy,” he said.

“There were seven tents set up in a row and if they had two cars sat there then that was probably about it.

“I don’t think the test sites are being used to their full ability. When we went to Wales, there were only two cars there including ourselves, in spite of having four car parking spaces.

“I just think it could be done much more efficiently and they could make more spaces available and expand it a bit more so we can get some more places in Worcester.

“I also think the website shouldn’t be displaying places when it doesn’t have those spaces available. It should be more robust. It really is shambolic.”

There have been problems with booking coronavirus tests in Worcester in recent weeks.

Earlier this week, a Worcester News reporter was unsuccessful when attempting to book a test before visiting a “very quiet” Sixways despite time slots being unavailable.

Worcestershire County Council said it was aware residents were struggling to book tests and the county as was the rest of the country.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said the NHS Test and Trace system was “working” and capacity was at its highest. The spokesman said the system was facing “significant demand” but urged those with symptoms to still find a way to get tested.