Confusion and frustration around testing has continued as concerned residents still have trouble trying to book an appointment for a test.

People have been trying for days to secure tests at one of the now four testing centres in the borough, with some being offered no option at all and others offered sites miles away in places such as Doncaster and as far as Wales.

Leaders have now joined in a call for more testing capacity in Bolton as residents contact them with their concerns.

One Westhoughton couple have labelled the testing capacity in the borough as “diabolical” after they were forced to travel over 90 miles into Wales to get a test.

The wife, 63, and husband, 64, from Westhoughton, who wished to remain anonymous, said they had been trying to book a test since Sunday, trying at all times of the day with only Doncaster being given as an option.

However, after trying through Monday to get a test appointment online at a site in Bolton, they were eventually offered a test at a site in Newtown, in mid-Wales, which they decided to take.

The Bolton News:

The resident said: “My husband was off work so I was trying on my phone and he had it up on his laptop trying to get a test after we both developed a cough.

“Our daughter is heavily pregnant so we want to make sure we were not putting her in danger.

“Doncaster kept coming up at first but the next option we got was Newton in Wales and because my husband was off work we were actually able to drive there. It took us nearly two and a half hours in the car.

“When we got there it was only a pop-up place in a car park and was really quiet. We were given a home testing kit through the window and told to do it ourselves, we could have done it completely wrong.

“We’ve come all this way to do this test because we’re worried about our daughter who is expecting a baby in November, just trying to do the right thing, I just couldn’t believe what we had to do when we got here.

“When you put in a Bolton postcode it doesn’t come up with anywhere in the north west, it just says everywhere is busy.

“You just eventually get offered Doncaster or Wales like we did, it’s diabolical, the website is completely not fit for purpose.”

The resident added that the testing centre itself in Newton was very quiet, and that the test only took around ten minutes before heading back to Westhoughton.

She continued: “We wanted to get a test to put our mind at rest with having a pregnant daughter and developing symptoms, but we were very fortunate to be able to drive to where we did and get our test but there are genuinely vulnerable people who can’t access one in Bolton where they need it.

“They told us we would get a text or email in two to three days with the results but to ring a number if we don’t hear back so we are worried we might not even hear back after all this now.

“It’s an absolute scandal, the website is definitely not fit for purpose, we’re just fortunate we had the resources to get there but we were so incensed when we got there and there were only another five cars or so. It didn’t look busy at all.

“It makes you wonder who is even getting a test in Bolton.”

Lisa McGoffie, 32, from Halliwell, told The Bolton News that she had been trying to access a test for nearly two weeks online with no luck for her family.

She then tried to use the Moor Lane testing centre this weekend after herself and two young children, six and 11, started experiencing symptoms, however, they were today they needed to book an appointment.

She said: "We all started losing our sense of taste and smell, and my youngest started getting a cough.

"I've been told that the children can't get a test at these centres so I wanted to get a test for our peace of mind.

"I took all of us to the Moor Lane centre but we were told to go back and book online but nothing has come up for weeks.

"It's just really annoying not knowing what to do now. I work on the door of a supermarket crossing loads of people and my kids are back in school, we need a test to know if we can go to school or work or need to isolate, at the moment we simply don't know.

"I don't even know if I can get the kids tested at one of these sites it's all very unclear."

Commenting on concerns about the availability of coronavirus tests, a spokesman for Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “At a time when Greater Manchester is being hit harder by Covid than any other part of the country, it is not acceptable that people here cannot access a test locally.

“Our local authorities are doing all they can to increase capacity in places like Bolton but we are hamstrung by serious issues with the national booking system and nationally run sites.

“The Government must act immediately to get this sorted and work with us to establish a better long-term solution to this problem.

“We would ask people to try booking an appointment only if you have coronavirus symptoms or you have been asked to get tested.”

The leader of Bolton Council, Cllr David Greenhalgh, has pleaded with the government to listen to their concerns.

He said: "We will work with you to get these rates down, but we need you to listen to our local concerns

"We need Bolton to be prioritised with extra testing capacity. Two new test centres have opened in the borough with another to open in the next day or so, but we are seeing overwhelming demand for appointments, and residents consistently unable to access that extra capacity through the nationally run booking scheme.

"This is not acceptable, and we are asking the government to give us additional tests through the national portal for our symptomatic residents."

Bolton Labour group leader, Cllr Nick Peel, shared these frustrations of residents, saying: “Many councillors are being inundated with distressing emails from residents who are symptomatic, or family members are symptomatic, and are not able to book an appointment for a test.

“We are being told by council officials that there is spare capacity at the testing centres in Bolton, yet residents are either being told on the online booking system that the service is too busy to cope with their request, or they are being sent hundreds of miles away. People are quite rightly worried and angry about the situation.

“The national online booking system is clearly not fit for purpose, and the Government should have introduced more localised systems weeks ago.”

Cllr Sue Haworth, Bolton Council's shadow cabinet member for wellbeing, added: "The supply side of Test and Trace in England has clearly fallen off a cliff and the government have not been straight with the people of Bolton or the country about this for days.

"It feels like local councils and the public have been hoodwinked and kept in the dark about testing.

"So many people have sat in Bolton on PC’s and phones these last days trying to book a test on the government test portal with a message screen “this service is unavailable” coming up time after time.

"This supply side catastrophic failure in Britain’s response to the pandemic was known about in government for some time. I suggest that, largely for political reasons, this has not been shared with the public or with local councils.

"The people of the Bolton Borough, with the highest Covid-19 rates in England, deserve the full facts from the government of the day."