A North East mum has described the "crazy journey" she and her family had to make to Scotland to get a Covid-19 test.
Karen Reynoldson revealed how she, her partner David Smith, and their daughters Sofia aged four and eight-year-old Neve had to make a 200-mile round trip from their home in Burnhope, County Durham, to Moffat in Dumfries and Galloway.
To make matters worse, during their two-hour drive there, she was told by her mum, who was also checking the availability of test times, that slots had become available in Newcastle.
"We were half way to Scotland by then so couldn't turn back," said Karen, 39. "I was spitting feather." Worse still, she said an official at Moffat told her, unofficially, that she and he family could probably have used the 'QR codes' they received to access their tests at any testing station.
"He said they wouldn't turn you away. I've heard this a couple of time now," said Karen, a medical secretary in the NHS. "We must have passed loads of testing stations on the way up there and I can imagine there were lots of people travelling in the opposite direction to us for tests down here."
It all began last weekend when Neve developed mild coronavirus symptoms and Karen dialled the NHS 111 health line for advice. A Triage Clinician quickly came on the line and said the family must self isolate and advised her to book Covid-19 tests for them all.
"I rang 119 to book a test and was on hold for an hour and 40 minutes before I got through," said Karen. There was a slot in Hexham around 28 miles away available. "I thought it was a bit far, what with the kids," said Karen, a little ruefully now.
She was advised to try again for somewhere nearer in the morning but when she rang again around 8.15am, the only slot available, she was told, was Galashiels in Scotland. However the time of the test was 10.30am which gave them around two hours to get there making the timing too tight. Then the slot at Moffat came up. Although it was further away than Galashiels the time slot was later at 11.30am.
"We took that one because it seemed the longer we left it the further away we seemed to be getting," said Karen.
The good news is the family all tested negatively, however it's hard to forget the trauma of getting the test.
"It was a crazy journey," said Karen. "It shouldn't be that difficult."
During a visit to the North East on Monday, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock spoke to Chronicle Live and was asked what the Government was doing to stop people travelling long distances to get coronavirus tests.
He said work was under way to increase testing facilities in the North East.
And on Thursday multi-million pound plans for a 'Lighthouse Laboratory' and coronavirus hub was announced.
The testing facility will open in Gateshead to deliver a "high-volume, rapid turnaround" of Covid-19 tests.