Fire station Covid testing expanded to Campbeltown

Lochgilphead SFRS watch commander Duncan Litster, right, assisted by his wife Verina, assisting with the Covid-19 testing process at Lochgilphead Fire Station.

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Campbeltown’s fire station is now one of three in Argyll and Bute being used as a Covid-19 testing centre by the Scottish Government.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Monday that the fire stations in Campbeltown and Dunoon would join the facility in Lochgilphead in being used to test residents for coronavirus.

The move, in partnership with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) and effective from Tuesday February 9 comes after successful trials in Lochgilphead and Thurso.

The Scottish Government has also earmarked fire stations in Tarbert, Arrochar, Cove and Rothesay as testing sites, and aims for them to become operational by mid-March.

A total of 21 fire stations across the NHS Highland area, with the remaining 17 across the Highland Council area, are being used.

Public Health Minister Mairi Gougeon said: ‘I’m pleased to announce the expansion of our fire station testing programme, which will make it far easier for people in these areas to get tested.

‘I am very grateful to the SFRS, Argyll and Bute Council, Highland Council, and NHS Highland for their support to make this expansion possible, following the success of our initial trial.

‘The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring people with Covid symptoms can easily access a test no matter where they are in the country, and we will continue to work with the UK Government and local partners to improve access to Covid testing in remote and rural areas.’

People living within walking or driving distance of one of the nominated fire stations, who have Covid-19 symptoms, can book a test by calling NHS Highland on 01463 706015.

Those driving to the station can take a test on site themselves, leaving it for collection by a courier that day, or they can pick up a test kit for somebody else and return it for collection.

Arrochar Fire Station will be used as a pick-up site only, while the remaining six in Argyll and Bute are to be used as small-scale testing sites.

Assistant chief officer Stuart Stevens, director of service delivery for the SFRS, said: ‘We are pleased that the success of the initial trial in Thurso and Lochgilphead now means that many more fire stations can assist rural communities to access Covid-19 tests closer to home.

‘Our staff have shown a real commitment to providing this service, whilst maintaining a capability to respond to emergencies, and I want to personally thank them for their ongoing efforts.

‘We will continue to support the Scottish Government, our partners and communities wherever possible through this pandemic.’