EXASPERATED residents say they have been sent more than 100 miles away in order to access a Covid-19 test.

Those living in and around south Cumbria report having been advised to travel as far away as Edinburgh and southern England in order to secure a testing slot.

The numerous accounts of difficulties accessing a test locally come as government figures suggest infection rates having more than tripled across all age groups since the end of July.

Bentham resident, Claire Leftwich, reports being offered a testing slot in Bournemouth as the 'nearest available' site on Sunday.

"We have a cancer patient in the family. There are treatments this week we'd have to suspend if someone in the family tested positive," she explained.

"We were in a desperate situation. But a seven-hour journey to the southern coast is hardly a solution to the problem.

"There's got to be a way round this - you can only book tests via the 119 number or the national portal. It's ridiculous - it doesn't seem there's any way to gain priority for testing now."

Ms Leftwich, whose children attend St Patrick's School in Endmoor, explained she was forced to fork out for a private test after several attempts to secure a test locally through the national scheme.

She said: "My daughter was sent home with symptoms on Thursday.

"She started to have a cough and a temperature by Friday. And, then, on Monday, we found out someone in her bubble had tested positive for the virus.

"So, by Tuesday, we had to try and do anything we could. In the end, we managed to get hold of a private home testing kit and we are now waiting on the results."

South Lakes MP Tim Farron has written to the Health Secretary urging him to intervene, following residents' reports this week.

It comes after leaked Government documents revealed that the UK faces a backlog of 185,000 COVID-19 tests.

Mr Farron says he has relayed several laboratories' offers to lend their capacity to the national testing effort but that each request has been ignored by the Department for Health.

"In the absence of a vaccine, the only way we get out of this crisis is through mass testing," he said.

“However, judging by the dozens of emails and phone calls my office has received from anxious constituents who have been all round the houses trying to get tested, it appears the system is on the brink of collapse.

“People are trying to do the right thing but are being completely failed by the system, at a huge expense to their mental wellbeing.

“Local people being advised to travel from South Cumbria to Edinburgh Airport for a coronavirus test is quite frankly a joke.

“The Government need to get a grip right now otherwise all of our efforts and sacrifices to defeat the virus could well be in vain.”