Drive through NHS covid testing | What to expect

Earlier this year, I got my first Covid test. It was a very simple process but being such a nerve-racking situation made it feel almost impossible so I thought I'd give you a little run down to give you an idea of what to expect and also in the hopes of making it less of a big scary taboo.

You book your appointment online and they tell you where and when. I booked on the Sunday evening for an appointment at 11am the next day. You can book for up to 4 people per car, I went with my mum.

My dad and brother went the day before, to a different center but we both had the same issue; the postcode the NHS website gave got us both completely lost so it's worth checking exactly where you need to go before you set off. It seems to be car parks for local sports clubs and similar so super easy to find for yourself.

Once we arrived, it was quite clear where we were supposed to be, the car park had a little marquee and people wandering around in hi-vis jackets. We drove in and up to the marquee, with our windows tightly shut, someone scanned the QR codes that we got with the booking confirmation the night prior - through the glass and we shouted as the people on the other side tried to explain what to do.

The main jist of the conversation was if you have a problem put your hazard lights on and we'll come and help otherwise take this, follow the instructions and bring it back. They then asked us to wind a window down as little as possible and slid a bag through for each of us.

The instructions in the bag were quite simple but as I said it was just a nerve-racking experience so I had to read them over and over before I went ahead.

You're given one swab, a tube which already has some red liquid in to place it into, a couple of bags, a card and an instruction booklet. It was slightly confusing because the papers looked like they needed filling in as well as space for you to write your details on the bio bag but that was not the case (we also did not have a pen, which caused more panic). Luckily they didn't actually need us to fill it in as everything was done with bar codes which was actually very efficient, just a little unclear.

The same one swab has to go to the back of your throat and then up your nostril as well. It did make us gag and then it did make my eye water but it wasn't painful or hard to do at all just slightly uncomfortable for ten seconds each time.

The swab goes into the liquid in the tube, done up tight, the tube goes in the ziploc bag with a moisture pad, that goes into a bio hazard bag and you're told not to close it until someone can come and watch you do it (so you do it properly I assume.) We put the hazards on, the guy talked us through sealing the bag and then it gets passed back through the window (and taken from you with rubbish pincers lol) before being scanned for your details and put in a box with all the others.

And that was it. The one I visited at least was very simple and well run. I felt safe and I felt like the people working there were safe too so that was reassuring. My dad and brother got their results back, negative, within 48 hours although mine and my mum's took a few days, negative also.

*Accurate as of  September 2020


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    1. They encourage others to book their appointments online and mention that up to four people can be tested per car.

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