THERE are reports of people living in England being forced to use false Scottish postcodes in order to access coronavirus tests as concerns continue over UK-wide lab testing capacity.  

The UK Government faces growing pressure as people struggle to access tests locally – even in Bolton, which has the highest coronavirus rate in the UK, one hospital warned people were coming to A&E seeking swabs.

The chair of the area’s NHS Foundation Trust said the “failure” of the Test and Trace scheme is placing “huge pressure on the NHS and social care”.

The First Minister said yesterday that she had spoken to Matt Hancock about her concerns over testing capacity.

Hancock warned there had been a “sharp rise” in people seeking tests in England, placing an “enormous challenge” on the system.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon voices concerns as Matt Hancock claims test fix will take weeks

Nicola Sturgeon told daily briefing viewers that the issue lies with the UK-wide laboratory testing capacity, rather than the swabbing element of the system.

She has sought “assurances that Scotland will continue to get fair access to the UK-wide laboratory capacity”. However, Hancock said it would take weeks to manage demand.

Now there are reports that people in England are using Scottish postcodes to get booked for tests after struggling to access them with their own address.

One GP told Sky News that the “system is broken” and she was made to “cheat” it. As her child experienced coronavirus symptoms she had no way of getting a test, refreshing the website “100 times” over a series of days.

“In desperation” she went to a local test system and begged for a test so she could get back to work as soon as possible.

“They were lovely,” she said. “They helped me to manage to get a QR code by using a postcode in Scotland.”

Meanwhile Ellie Bell, a commercial manager from London, had a similar experience. She couldn’t access a test and spent five hours refreshing the UK Government website because her children had coughs.

Nothing was available besides a 135-mile round trip, so Bell told The Guardian she went to the test centre where they told her to get a QR code by fabricating an Aberdeen postcode.

“I’ve told another London friend to basically lie her way into a test,” she said.

READ MORE: England's 'failing' Test and Trace scheme puts pressure on the NHS

Photographer Gavin Kaps told the newspaper of a similar experience – suffering a cough, no sense of smell or taste and fatigue, he could not get booked in for a test.

He said he went to a testing centre where a member of staff “asked if I had an appointment and informed me that ‘the Government’ had said they couldn’t accept people without appointments".

Kaps went on: "He acknowledged the centre wasn’t busy and agreed it wasn’t acceptable that it wasn’t possible to book a test when there was clearly capacity.”

A member of staff at the centre advised him to make a booking online, trying postcodes in Manchester, Doncaster, Leeds, Guildford and Sheffield before finding success with a postcode in Prestwick.

He said: “I was then allowed straight in as there were no queues. A member of staff approached me and asked for the postcode I had used so that they could pass that on to other people to get a QR code.”

Speaking in the Commons, LibDem MP Munira Wilson said her constituents had managed to access tests by forging Aberdeen postcodes.

She asked Hancock how a “world-beating” Test and Trace system could work this way.

Hancock told her: “It’s incumbent on all of us to take a responsible approach and tell our constituents that tests are available in large numbers and the average distance travelled is 5.8 miles … And people should take this seriously and not game the system.”

It is unclear what impact “gaming the system” will have on capacity in Scotland.

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.