Covid-19 testing in Sussex

Health and care organisations across Sussex are receiving a large volume of enquires about the availability of Covid-19 tests.

Recent media reports have highlighted that the national Covid-19 testing system’s laboratories are facing very high demand. As a result, local test bookings may be unavailable at busy times and people are being directed to the nearest site with available slots. In addition, home testing kits are made available in batches and so may also be unavailable at busy times.

Work is ongoing nationally to address the issue and national laboratory capacity continues to expand. However, the government has said that laboratory capacity may be constrained for some weeks. We are very sorry for any inconvenience this causes.

The current challenges are with national laboratory capacity rather than the availability or capacity of testing stations. There is a wide availability of testing sites across Sussex, including at Gatwick, Tangmere and Bexhill. There are also mobile testing units rotating around the county, one of which will remain in Brighton and Hove until a new permanent testing site for the city is established.

While these sites may not appear busy, the number of tests they can carry out is determined by the laboratory capacity available to process tests. Please do not attend a testing site without an appointment.

The latest guidance is that you should only apply for a Covid-19 test if you have symptoms – a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. You should isolate for ten days or until a negative test result is received, only leaving home to get tested. Anyone in your household who does not have symptoms should isolate for 14 days.

In the event that people with symptoms are unable to obtain a local test, it is not recommended that they travel long distances. Government advice is to try booking again in a few hours.

Tests can be booked on the government website or by calling 119.

Across Sussex, health and care organisations, local authorities and public health are working together with the Department of Health and Social Care to manage the current situation. We are working to make any spare capacity in our NHS hospital laboratories (used for patient tests) available for testing health and social care staff in order to free up as much capacity as possible for the public.