Your experiences of using our Covid-19 Testing Centre

For those of you working on campus, you will know that you are strongly encouraged to book regular tests at our Covid-19 Testing Centre.

If you’ve not used the centre before, you may understandably be feeling a little anxious. To help put your mind at rest, here are some experiences from fellow colleagues.

For more information about Our Covid-19 Testing Centre and how to book a test slot, visit the coronavirus web pages.

Luke Wild

AV Technician in IT Services

Image of Luke Wild and Aimee Paskins

I'm Luke Wild and in the picture I'm with my partner Dr Aimee Paskins. I work as an AV Technician in IT Services, and Aimee is a research scientist in Biomedical Sciences. I've been on campus supporting the teaching that has been going on face-to-face, while also installing new equipment into teaching spaces to support blended/hybrid teaching.

I've used the test centre twice a week since we were allowed to book slots in. All negative thankfully! It's extremely easy to book a slot using Connect2, which can be accessed via MUSE under 'Resource Bookings'. You just enter your username, pick an available slot and book yourself in.

Once you arrive everything is clearly signposted and there are staff to help talk you through the process if you haven't been before. I've felt very safe the whole time and not had any worries. I think the fact I've been able to come on campus regularly and see what infrastructure we have in place to make campus safer puts me at ease.

Orla Gallagher

Senior Research Technician in the Department of Oncology and Metabolism

I am in labs on the campus for much of the week and have been using the Covid testing service regularly since it became available for staff.

I want to get tested regularly as I am training staff and postgraduate students in lab techniques and I would like to keep us and colleagues as safe as possible, as well as my family and anyone else I come into contact with outside work. Having worked on campus continually since March 2020 when we had no testing available, and didn’t know if I may be an asymptomatic carrier, regular testing offers some reassurance.

Before my first visit, I watched the video on the testing webpages so that I would know what to expect. The process is very quick and well-organised, and the staff are helpful if you have any questions or issues. The facility is spacious and well-sanitised, and although the swab test is not pleasant, I have found it gets easier with practice. This week I even got a tip from my tester on how to minimise the gag reflex - and it worked! I would encourage anyone working on campus to try out the service.

Image of Orla Gallagher wearing a face covering

Professor Alison Gartland

Department of Oncology and Metabolism

Myself and my team are back on campus accessing the departmental laboratories doing pre-clinical research into primary and secondary bone cancer.

Since we've been back, we have been taking two tests a week as recommended. I personally have not had any negative experiences at all using the service. It is easy to book, plenty of appointments are available and the staff are really friendly and helpful when you visit. It probably takes more time to fill in the government's online form than it does to do the test! You can do it on your own smart phone, or if you don't have one, or if like mine it plays up, then there are tablets to use at the centre.

All in all, it takes 10 minutes of your time to do - and you get your test back in 30 minutes. This to me is a small inconvenience for that bit of added reassurance that I am doing all I can to protect my co-workers and minimise the spread of Covid-19. So don't delay - get yours today! (and every week you are on campus).

Mark Ariaans

Lead technician in the Department of Infection, Immunity & Cardiovascular Disease

Image of Dr Mark Ariaans, outside the Testing Centre in the Octagon.

Our department has been very active throughout the pandemic performing a range of Covid-19 related research activities, from supporting vaccine clinical trials (Oxford/AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson) to virus genome sequencing (Cog-UK) to developing our own in-house viral proteins and screening assays.

Although it is very rewarding work and it is a privilege to be allowed to come into work and support the fight against Covid-19 instead of being forced to work from home, traveling to site and working among increasing numbers of returning colleagues and students does create its own stresses and anxieties. Not only was there the daily worry about contracting the disease myself, but also the concern that if I were to carry the virus without showing symptoms, unbeknownst to me I could be putting my co-workers and my own family at risk.

Therefore, it was a great relief for me when the University opened up their Covid-19 testing facility to staff members in the new year. All our clinical colleagues already had been receiving lateral flow tests twice per week through the NHS as a standard, so it was fantastic to finally have this service offered to University staff as well as our students. I have been using it regularly since January and it has been very reassuring. You don’t really appreciate how much this situation subconsciously stresses you out until you get your first negative test result through. It was a great relief. Being able to have regular tests is taking a lot of the anxiety of coming to work away.

The process itself is very straightforward; most of the time it takes me no more than 10 minutes from entering the Octagon Centre to walking outside again. You just pre-book a slot through the University website, which gives you automatic reminders on when your next appointment is due. The first time using the NHS test registration site was a bit frustrating and tedious, but once you’ve done it a few times it is actually a very straightforward process which only takes a couple of minutes. The facility workers are very helpful and the registration and testing areas feel well maintained and secure, with good social distancing arrangements and sanitisation. The worst bit is sticking the collection swab up your nose, but it is a minor inconvenience in exchange for the knowledge that you are safe and you are not putting people around you at risk. I definitely strongly recommend anyone who regularly comes to work to get themselves tested, every 3-4 days if feasible, even if you have already been vaccinated, and we actively encourage all our on site staff and students to do so.

Bella Abrams

Director of Information Technology

Image of Bella Abrams wearing a face covering outside the Octagon Centre

I come to campus once a week to support the work my team does on campus. I’ve recently taken my first test in the Octagon centre but not my first Covid Test. I plan to take one each time I come to campus each week.

I was keen to use the centre and see how hard the volunteers all work to make it such an easy process. I knew from my previous Covid tests the swabs in the throat are a bit grim but it's just for a few seconds.

I booked my test the day before on the Connect2 service found on the staff web pages. There were lots of available slots. I easily found an early one that was great before I was due to start work. It's really important to bring a phone to the test to book in on the test and trace website. Once booked in, I waited for two minutes for a booth to be free, did my test, had a lovely socially distant chat with my tester and went on with my day. My result came through in 45 minutes and I was happily Covid free.

I'd really encourage people to use the centre, it's been set up really well, is easy to use and quick to get results.

Phillip Pickstock

Departmental Technical Manager

I work on site approximately three days per week, I am a regular user of the Covid test centre. The entire process takes approximately eight minutes to complete and is painless. The staff are extremely friendly and helpful, and for those who struggle with mobile phones, the staff will even help you complete the documentation using an iPad.

Rob Hemus

Theatre and Productions and Technical Manager

I work in the School of English Theatre Workshop as the theatre/production manager for our students' amazing and inventive theatre work. Many of the theatre students have been keen to get back onto campus and so while I will support some remotely who do not wish to return, I was keen to come back onto campus to support those who wanted to work that way and used the asymptomatic campus test facility for the first time.

The booking system was nice and straightforward, a couple of emails back to remind me and give details of how to get there. It said the west entrance which I found meant the main entrance to the Octagon and then up the stairs and turn left (accessible route also available). My only problem was my telephone could not scan a QR code. So instead I loaned an iPad, filled out the online form and got tested. It was quick, easy with people around to help out. I got a text back within half an hour to say I had tested negative and so I was able to stay on campus and fly a gauze for some shadow puppetry!

Professor Jenny Pickerill

Head of Department Geography, tweeted:

"Covid test centre today - now open to staff as well as students. Very organised, spacious, clear + you have your own booth. At no point are you near anyone else. Would encourage all on campus to get tested regularly #Free #GetTested"

Image of Jenny Pickerill

If you’ve been regularly using the centre or have recently done so for the first time, share your experience with us by emailing:

Please include a photo or video of yourself and tell us:

  • A bit about you and what work you're doing on campus

  • If it's your first time using the centre or if you've been taking regular tests

  • Sharing how you felt, eg any concerns/anxiety/nervousness, prior to using the centre

  • Your experience of using the centre (and the booking process), especially anything that helped you feel more at ease