Update: Covid-19 testing in the region

Mobile testing units

We moved swiftly to make sure testing facilities for residents of Brighton & Hove stayed available when the regional testing centre at the Amex Stadium closed. 

The Amex site was always expected to shut when the football season began. The first match at the stadium was arranged before the start of the season, earlier than originally expected. 

  • Our first action was to arrange for a temporary mobile testing unit, based at Brighton Racecourse, to stay in place while we found other sites for testing facilities in the city. 
  • A suitable site at Withdean Sports Complex was quickly found. The council has successfully arranged for a mobile testing unit to be based at Withdean until the end of September.

Providing local tests for Brighton & Hove

The council’s Public Health team is working with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to arrange for more testing facilities to be based in the city. 

Sites around the city are currently being looked at by the DHSC. The aim is for up to three local testing sites covering east, west and central Brighton & Hove to soon be operational.

However, the number of tests these new local testing sites will be able to carry out depends on the capacity of national laboratories to process the tests.

Problems booking tests

National demand for testing is now higher than laboratory capacity. This is leading to problems with people being tested across the country. New bookings are sometimes unavailable at busy times or people are offered options far from their home. Access to home testing kits is also affected.

The council has been actively lobbying central Government and calling for access to testing for our residents. 

As mentioned above, the closest testing facilities for Brighton & Hove residents currently are a mobile testing unit based in Withdean and a regional testing centre at Gatwick. People can also arrange for a home testing kit to be sent to them. 

Tests at both these sites, and home testing kits, must be booked on the NHS national web portal.

If a test is offered at a site in another part of the country, Government advice is to try again in a few hours rather than travel long distances with Covid-19 symptoms.

Who should book a test?

Testing is only recommended for anyone with Covid-19 symptoms or who has been advised to have a test, for example by Public Health England (PHE) or the NHS. 

Anyone with symptoms should self-isolate for 10 days or until they receive a negative test result.

The differences between regional, mobile and local testing facilities

The regional testing centre at the Amex Stadium served East Sussex, West Sussex and Brighton & Hove. The nearest regional testing site to Brighton & Hove is currently based at Gatwick. 
Access: People can only drive to regional testing centres.

Mobile testing units are temporary and are only intended to stay in one place for three to four days at a time. The units move around Sussex to where they are needed. 
Access: People can only drive to mobile testing units.

Local testing sites are designed to be in place while the pandemic measures are necessary. The sites are based within the community. 
Access: People will be able to walk, cycle or drive to the new local testing sites when they open in Brighton & Hove.

Tests at all sites must be pre booked online via the NHS national web portal.

Who runs test sites?

Brighton & Hove City Council does not manage testing facilities based within the city.

The local council helps to identify sites for regional, mobile and local testing sites and refers them to the DHSC.

DHSC evaluates the site’s suitability based on:

  • Size: The size required is based on the type of test site and can vary from a medium to large footprint.
  • Accessibility: Regional test centres and mobile testing units need to be easily accessible by car with enough parking for the volume of visitors and staff. Local sites must also provide free parking.
  • Facilities: All sites must be able to provide access to toilets and handwashing facilities.

Once a site has been approved by DHSC, the installation and management of the testing facility is handled by independent private contractors (not the council).