Trial underway to increase test access in remote and rural areas.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing will be available from two fire stations in Thurso and Lochgilphead this month, as part of a trial to increase testing access in remote and rural areas.
The trial test sites will run between 6 and 29 January in partnership with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS). Each site will be available Monday to Friday, for three and a half hours each day.
People within driving or walking distance of these locations who have COVID-19 symptoms will be able to book a test slot at the Thurso or Lochgilphead stations by calling NHS Highland, who will provide details of the booking and what to do when people arrive.
If people drive to the site they can take the test themselves onsite and leave it for collection by a courier. Or people can collect a test kit for someone else and bring it back for courier collection.
In addition to hosting the testing sites, the SFRS will provide logistical support, including test ordering and storage of samples ahead of courier collection.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:
“Although there are currently a range of options for people in remote and rural areas to get tested, these options are not always convenient or on their doorstep. With this trial our aim is to give people with COVID-19 symptoms in these areas more consistent access to testing, and to see whether this approach could be adopted across other remote and rural areas of Scotland if successful.
“Our advice remains the same – if you develop COVID-19 symptoms (new continuous cough, fever or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste), you should immediately self-isolate and book a test. This is especially critical against a backdrop of rising cases.
“I am grateful to the SFRS, Argyll and Bute Council, Highland Council, and NHS Highland for their excellent partnership working in making this trial possible, and for their ongoing support throughout the pandemic.”
Assistant Chief Officer Stuart Stevens, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Director of Service Delivery, said:
"Our fire stations at Thurso and Lochgilphead are ideally placed to facilitate the distribution, collection and storage of test kits within a safe and secure location, providing a service far closer to home for those who may unfortunately be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Both stations will maintain the capability to respond to emergencies.
“It is imperative that everyone in Scotland has access to consistent testing and particularly within our more rural and remote communities. We will continue to support the Scottish Government, our partners and communities wherever possible through this challenging time.”
Testing in the following areas can be arranged by calling NHS Highland on 01463 706015.
Lochgilphead Community Fire Station, Campbell Street, Lochgilphead, PA31 8JU
6 Jan – 29 Jan: Mon – Fri: 09:00 to 12:30
Thurso Community Fire Station, Millbank Road, Thurso, Highland, KW14 8PS
6 Jan – 29 Jan Mon – Fri: 09:00 to 12:30