Health and care leaders from Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent have welcomed the news that the bet365 Stadium Coronavirus testing site is to be transformed into a regional testing centre.
This means there will be capacity to test many more people, with the site expected to be up-and-running soon.
Stoke City FC has been hosting a local satellite testing site at the bet365 since April 20.
It has been staffed mainly by NHS CCG clinical staff who have volunteered to return to frontline duties, and has received support throughout from the football club.
Heather Johnstone, Director of Nursing and Quality for the NHS Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent CCGs and head of the local partnership testing cell said: “We have achieved much since the local testing site opened, helping NHS, local authority, care, and other emergency workers get back to work on the frontline. The announcement that the site will now join the regional testing centres will allow capacity at the site to be opened up to many more people who have Coronavirus symptoms.
“I would like to thank Stoke City FC and their staff for all the magnificent support they have given to us, and to our team who volunteered to leave their normal roles to operate the testing site.”
Stoke-on-Trent City Council leader Abi Brown said: “Our city is ready and willing to support the wider provision of testing that is such an important factor in helping to control this horrible disease. I look forward to more information being released by government in the coming days on how our residents can use the facility.”
Richard Smith, Property Director for the bet365 Group and Managing Director for Stoke City FC added: “We are delighted to be able to assist with the national Covid-19 testing effort by providing the bet365 Stadium South Car Park for use as a Regional Testing Centre for people from the city and surrounding area.”
Anyone experiencing a new, continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of or change in their normal sense of smell or taste, can book an appointment on the NHS website to be tested for whether they currently have coronavirus. Essential workers can book a test on the GOV.UK essential worker self-referral portal.
A satellite testing centre at Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium will remain. It will run testing for NHS, care, local authority and other emergency service staff who have been informed how to book tests by their employees.