New Covid-19 testing centre for West Lothian

NHS Lothian has bowed to pressure from West Lothian Council to establish a testing centre for Covid-19 for local healthcare staff

By Stuart Sommerville
Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 9:43 am
Stock photo of a drive-thru test centre in Grangemouth for NHS staff, council workers and emergency services.
Stock photo of a drive-thru test centre in Grangemouth for NHS staff, council workers and emergency services.

Councillor Lawrence Fitzpatrick, leader of the council,  had  criticised an “Edinburgh -centric” approach by the health trust and  called for it  to widen testing into West Lothian – warning “that the world does not end at Maybury roundabout”.

This week NHS Lothian agreed it will establish a test centre at the West Lothian College car park in Livingston.

The test centre is now being built, with the work being carried out by the council’s Building Services at the request of NHS Lothian.

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Testing, it is understood, will not only be available to local NHS staff but to social care workers.

Councillor Fitzpatrick  said he was delighted that NHS Lothian has “responded positively” and added that this would “bring huge relief to the many worried local healthcare  staff as well as their families and loved ones”.

It is  understood that the test centre will remain in operation as long as circumstances require.

The announcement follows news at the start of the week of a new taxi service to help transport staff and patients to Covid-19 assessment and testing centres.

NHS Lothian has teamed up with Central Taxis in Edinburgh to provide the 24/7 service to people who have symptoms but cannot get to a nearby centre for care and testing.

Councillor Fitzpatrick said: “It is the case that Health Boards take direction from the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Health but it is in the public interest for the wellbeing of all that operational decisions which fall short must be challenged.

“There has been a too slow approach. I would reiterate Labour’s ongoing demand that testing capacity must be rapidly increased by the Scottish Government. This must be done to ensure a clearer understanding of the scale of the virus for all frontline health staff with regular reporting on numbers tested and those who have tested positive.

“This is the approach demanded by the World Health Organisation … test – test – test.”