THE deputy leader of Oldham Council and its cabinet member for the town's coronavirus response has slammed the government's testing regimes after residents were turned walk-up sites.

Cllr Arooj Shah took to Twitter to condemn the current situation in Oldham which she described as "a shambles".

And she continued: "I refuse to let the council take the flack for a national failure."

She said that residents could not book a test online or through the 119 service and were being turned away from walk-up sites.

And Cllr Shah claimed the national guidelines had changed without the local authority being informed.

She said: "Testing is a key part of our fightback, so how are we supposed to hit a testing targets that demands asymptomatic testing?

"[This is] clearly the biggest, most difficult public health issue of our generation and they [the government] haven't got a grip, but are okay to lay the blame at our door."

She said she had spent Sunday (September 13) speaking to concerned residents who were "already doing their best in such challenging circumstances".

"A mother who got turned away from one site went to another to be turned away again terrified and right concerned for the welfare of her child," she said.

"If lab capacity is an issue and we’re facing the same situation that the leader of Wales found himself in when testing capacity was limited then at least do the right thing and let us know. How are we supposed to build trust with our residents and help?

"The government then has the nerve to use the weekly press conference to tell us off like we’re naughty school kids instead of accepting responsibility for their own failure.The government is failing us and our people."

Over the weekend people across Oldham have been turned away from walk-in testing centres and told that tests were not available without appointment, despite advice on the Oldham Council website saying otherwise.

Oldham West and Royton MP Jim McMahone has also waded in, saying: "It was clear for all of us to see this weekend that the national test booking system completely broke down, after the chaos of last week where it was telling people their nearest testing sites where over a hundred miles away, this time the response was a much simpler: ‘no test sites found'.”

“But as a backup, the Honeywell Centre, Peel Street and Southgate Street testing sites were supposed to be offering tests without appointment to those with symptoms. This was the understanding of the council and myself, we both spent the weekend communicating as much to residents.”

“It soon became clear though that people were then being turned away from these sites and being told it was appointment only. I hope government can see how this will undermine what little faith people already had in the testing system.”

“This chaos can’t carry on, it’s incredibly frustrating to see just how hard the council and local public health teams are trying to work here on the ground in Oldham only to be hamstrung by the failures of government.”

“We’re doomed to fail in the battle against Covid-19 if we can’t test people properly. Government must urgently fix whatever lab capacity issues they are having so we can get on with testing, tracing and isolating.”