Telford gridlocked when glitch told hundreds to go there for a test

Hundreds of cars from across the country descended on an English town in search of Covid-19 tests, ministers have been told.

Roads were blocked and tests quickly ran out in Telford after a booking system error directed people from Cornwall, London and elsewhere to the site in Shropshire, Conservative MP Lucy Allan said.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock vowed to examine what “glitch” caused the issue, adding the Government is examining the broader problem of people being directed “too far” for a test.

Speaking in the Commons, Ms Allan praised the Government’s progress on expanding testing capacity and thanked Mr Hancock for his “tireless” work.

But the MP for Telford added: “Inevitably this is not without its challenges.

“On Tuesday evening, hundreds of cars from across the country – and I mean hundreds – descended on Telford and its testing site as directed by the booking system.

“Tests quickly ran out, roads were blocked, people who had travelled from as far away as Cornwall, Stockport and London were turned away, and my constituents were no longer able to access tests in the area – and they in turn were sent elsewhere.”

She asked: “What assurances can (Mr Hancock) give that the error in the booking system that directed so many people to come to Telford has now been corrected, and does he agree that people should not be criss-crossing the country and travelling for many hours to secure a test?”

Mr Hancock replied: “Yes, I absolutely do. I agree with (Ms Allan) and her description of the situation, which is we have built this system at great pace.

“I didn’t know about this example in Telford although I had heard of people telling me there was a lot of people directed to Telford in this instance.

“I had a meeting on the problem of people being directed too far only on Tuesday evening after being in this House.

“The broad problem is something we are absolutely looking at and I will go and take away the particular example and find out exactly what glitch caused it.”

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