A BELLANALECK woman has described the process to book a COVID-19 test as “shambolic”, and called on there to be more clarity around the process.

Last Friday morning, Olivia Moore tried to book appointments for herself and two family members. As a key worker, she was able to add the family members on to her own booking.

With St. Angelo Airport the nearest testing centre, she expected this to be the location for the test – however, this was not the case.

“I have the track and trace app on my phone so I went through it and it redirects to a booking page where you put in your details,” explained Olivia.


“We got that far and it said your nearest one [testing centre] is 60 miles away; I think they said it was Lisburn. I then tried again, and it came up as Newry, and I then tried again, and it came up as Scotland.”

At this point, Olivia decided to ring the 119 number provided and explained the situation, only to be told that the closest testing centre was still 60 miles away.

She was told to ring back in half an hour to see if there was a closer centre, but when she tried she could not get through.

“I went back online to see if I repeated this process continuously, maybe something would come up. Eventually, the system was just telling me Scotland – it wasn’t even giving me Newry or Lisburn any more,” she revealed.

Olivia was in contact with an employee at the testing centre to try and get a booking sorted, and she decided to just drive up without an appointment.

Two days later, on Sunday morning before leaving, she checked on the website again and was able to finally book a slot in Enniskillen for 10am – but this was not the end of her problems.

“I booked myself in and was given the option to add two more people. So I added the other two, filled all the information in. The appointment was confirmed; I got a confirmation email with a barcode on it and we arrived at St. Angelo before 10am.”

While Olivia was able to produce her barcode, her relatives had not received a confirmation email, and they were told they would have to book again.

“It was a shambles. We had to pull over into some side part. I said: ‘I am the one who booked it. I am a key worker bringing two contacts with me, as I’m allowed to do. You have my code, car reg; what’s the issue?’,” said Olivia.

They eventually rebooked for an 11am appointment, but Olivia added: “They came back over again and said: ‘That’s the person registered twice’, and I said: ‘I know, because I have already registered her’ and you made her register again’.

“The system was shambolic, but eventually we got through all swabbed and all came back as negative.”

Despite the silver lining of the negative tests, the experience for Olivia and her family was poor, and she has called on a better system to be put in place, especially around choosing a testing centre.

“I just think that there was miscommunication and a lack of knowledge. It needs to be clearer.

“There is no way my family member could have travelled that far. It was a shambles. It has all turned out good in the end, but there needs to be a bit more clarity on what exactly you have to do.”

Olivia fears that people who may be displaying symptoms could be put off getting a test if they think they have to travel to Newry, Lisburn or even Scotland.

“I understand that the testing has to be done. Thank God for the testing, but it needs to be made simpler.

“The increase in testing is obviously showing a rise in cases, but if people can’t get tested, are they walking around with Covid and not knowing it?”

In a press release from the Public Health Agency (PHA), Dr Bríd Farrell, Assistant Director of Service Development, Safety and Quality at the PHA, said: “We are aware of some issues with the DHSC booking system which have resulted in people finding it hard to book tests, or being offered tests at sites outside Northern Ireland.


“We are working with DHSC to try to resolve these, but it’s important to note that pressure on testing is having an impact, which is why it is important that testing is used appropriately.

“We also know some people had an experience with the booking system recently that meant they were offered tests at locations that didn’t have testing sites.

“These were generally for locations that previously had a mobile testing unit available.

“This was because the DHSC portal for booking tests did not immediately update with the new locations.

“On these occasions, we have worked with our DHSC colleagues to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.

“We continue to work with our colleagues in DHSC to ensure changes are made to the booking portal in a more timely manner to reflect the actual location of testing units, and have sought reassurances around this, moving forward,” said Dr Farrell.