PEOPLE with coronavirus symptoms say they have been turned away from the borough's only test site - even though it was EMPTY and there were eight staff members with nothing to do.

The testing shambles has seen numerous people, who have been unable to book tests on the government website, turned away from the borough's test site on Engine Lane, near the Merry Hill centre.

They are fuming and say there was NO-ONE there being tested when they were turned away, with staff left sitting there with nothing to do.

A man who didn't want to be named said he turned up at the site on Tuesday (September 15) and was told he couldn't get tested as he didn't have an appointment.

He said: “There were two lots of four people (eight in total) waiting to test people and not a car or a person there… but they’re telling me there’s no such thing as a walk-in appointment.”

The man, who lives three minutes from the site, said he was sent home from work as he has two of the Covid-19 symptoms.

A Dudley Council spokesman told the News last week that booking through the government website was desirable, but that there were some walk-in appointments - but that these couldn't be guaranteed and people may be turned away.

But when contacted by the News this week the council said the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC)is running the site and it could not clarify the situation over whether walk-in appointments were available.

The DHSC said today (Wednesday) people do need appointments to get a test at the site.

Meanwhile on Twitter people were venting their frustration.

Theresa Pearson shared a tweet which showed a picture of the deserted test centre with the caption: "I would love someone to explain to me why this new testing centre that has opened at Merry Hill is open, well staffed and EMPTY - yet we can't get a test there.

"Either by appointment and not accepting walk-ins. Even though we were there and they were doing NOTHING.

"What is going on?"

Halesowen News:

Angela Colella said her daughter who is a key worker, was turned away from the Engine Lane site and one at Woodgate.

She said: "She's been trying to book a test since 7.30am. The website is not fit for purpose, it crashes, says there's no tests, be it walk through, drive through or home testing.

"She rang the Covid hotline (119) and was on hold for over an hour and their message is basically, we cant help you, go to the NHS site to book a test!

"My daughter is now in a position of potentially having this virus.

"She obviously cannot attend work, and is not paid for sick leave - she has done everything she possible can - driven to both Merry Hill and Woodgate Testing stations in the hope of a walk in appointment, all to no avail.

"This Government has no idea of how to handle this pandemic, and I am worried as the winter months approach how it will only get worse.

"It's disgraceful, they have totally let their citizens down."

Halesowen News:

When contacted by the News about people being turned away from the Engine Lane site when it was empty, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "NHS Test and Trace is working, our capacity is the highest it has ever been and but we are seeing a significant demand for tests.

"New booking slots and home testing kits are made available daily for people with symptoms and we are targeting testing capacity at the areas that need it most, including those where there is an outbreak, and prioritising at-risk groups.

“Our laboratories are processing more than a million tests a week and we recently announced new facilities and technology to process results even faster.

"If you do not have symptoms and are not eligible to get a test you can continue to protect yourself if you wash your hands, wear a face covering and follow social distancing rules.”

A spokesman said people must have appointments to get a test at the Engine Lane test centre.