// A coronavirus test centre for NHS staff opens at Ikea’s Wembley store in north-west London
// The drive-through testing centre opened in the car park of the site
// Ikea follows Boots in offering free testing kits to NHS staff
Ikea has become the latest retailer to step up support for NHS workers during the coronavirus pandemic by opening up a new test centre for medical staff on the frontline.
A drive-through testing centre has opened in the car park of the furniture retailer’s store in Wembley, north-west London, and Ikea said it would review its other sites to see if any more can be set up.
It comes after the government pledged to roll out testing to frontline health staff as soon as possible, with Boots setting up similar schemes in Nottingham and Surrey.
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More than 9000 people who have tested positive for coronavirus are currently being treated in UK hospitals and officials said they only expect that figure to grow.
An Ikea spokesman said: “Today, a drive-through NHS Covid-19 test centre has opened in the car park of our Wembley store.
“We are incredibly proud that we are able to support the government and the NHS in this small way, and are working with them to identify any additional sites that could also support the national effort.”
The spokesman added: “We have also responded to requests from intensive care units and doctors across the country by delivering tens of thousands of our disposable paper tape measures, to help them continue their amazing care for their patients.
“We have also donated food to local hospitals, food banks, and shelters to help provide some immediate relief in the short term.”
The furniture giant said it was also looking at short- and long-term plans to help communities including partnerships with Barnardo’s and refugees charity Breaking Barriers.
Last week, during a visit to the new NHS Nightingale Hospital in London’s Docklands, NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said the number of patients in hospital will increase, but added that services set up to handle additional capacity will be available later this week.
He also promised a “ramping up” of staff testing for those working in the NHS.
Other big retail chains, including Boots, are supporting the government’s plan to test NHS workers showing symptoms.
The health and beauty retailer launched free drive-through centres at its headquarters in Nottingham and at Chessington World of Adventures in Surrey.
Boots said locations for more test centres are still being defined around the country, but they will not be in its stores.
The sites will initially be for NHS staff by invitation only, the retailer said.
with PA Wires