Five Covid testing sites to close in York due to funding row
Five of York’s eight in-person Covid testing sites will close this week due to a “lack of clarity” over government funding arrangements, the city’s council leader has said.
Assisted community testing sites at St William’s College, Acomb Explore Library, Rawcliffe Recreation Association, York Designer Outlet and York Community Stadium will close down.
Councillor Keith Aspden has written to health secretary Sajid Javid to ask for funding for local testing and contract tracing to be delivered until at least the end of March 2022.
According to Coun Aspden’s letter, there are new requirements for all local authorities to submit three-monthly plans for local testing to the government, which are then allocated capped funding.
He said that he understood the government was pushing for people to do their own tests at home, but that assisted testing sites were “particularly important for people with learning or physical disabilities who struggle with the technology and reporting of results”.
Coun Aspden added in a statement: “Lack of clarity, including on longer term funding arrangements, is causing considerable concern for city partners, and the public health team.
“Long term planning is particularly crucial as we enter the winter period, when extra burdens are expected to be put on the local NHS and social care system and more residents require testing as flu and covid-like symptoms spread.”
Coun Aspden said it was “yet another counter-productive decision from the government”, just months after the authority’s “successful” local contract tracing system was recentralised.
He added: “We know that the pandemic is not yet over and case numbers in the city continue to be higher than we would like.”
Testing sites at the University of York, York St John University and Foxwood Community centre will continue to carry out assisted tests, while nine other sites will now operate for collection only.
The local public health team will also continue to carry out community outreach work.
The Department of Health and Social Care was contacted for comment.