A drive-through Covid-19 testing centre has opened in Barnstaple.
The McDonald’s in Eastern Avenue is a swabbing facility for NHS and care staff as well as people in their household, with results available 24 hours later.
Tests are only available to those who have been given an appointment via their employer.
NHS and care staff – including NHS hospital, community and mental health staff; GPs and practice staff; pharmacists, ambulance workers and care home and domiciliary care staff – are being encouraged to contact their employer if they need a test.
A drive to improve testing for frontline health and care staff is being led by the Peninsula Pathology Network, which is comprised of the five acute trusts across Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, as well as local clinical commissioning groups and primary care.
Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust also has the capability to test staff and patients on site.
Ann James, chief executive officer of University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust and chair of the Peninsula Pathology Network, said: “Testing plays a vital role in supporting the wellbeing of our health and care colleagues, helping them get back to work as quickly as possible and helping track the spread of the virus.
“By working together across the peninsula, we are making best use of our combined testing capacity and are making the testing process simple and fast.”
On Thursday (April 23), Health Secretary Matt Hancock opened testing up to essential workers, such as police officers, teachers, social workers, those in the justice system, undertakers, some in local government, supermarket and food production workers, journalists, transport workers and some people in utilities and IT.
Those workers who aren’t NHS or care staff can self refer for testing via a Government online portal, and will be given an appointment at a site run by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
There are currently two DHSC sites in Devon – Seaton Barracks in Plymouth and Honiton Park and Ride in Exeter, although both will be allocated a mobile unit to provide additional services to more rural parts of Devon and Cornwall.
Mobile and postal testing will be available for staff who cannot get to testing sites.