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Live map now shows Sefton’s SMART COVID testing site details including likely waiting times

Bootle Map
Details of Bootle Leisure Centre SMART testing site shown on location map.

Sefton residents with NO coronavirus symptoms planning on getting a COVID-19 test can now find details of the Borough’s SMART test sites on a live map.

As well as showing the precisely location of the Bootle Leisure Centre, Southport Splash World and Aintree Racecourse sites, the NHS Find a Test Centre map also gives an indication of how busy they are and the likely waiting time. At the moment, they are all showing green with a waiting time of less than 15 minutes but if they get busier, Sefton Council will update the map to help people make a choice.

Check out the Live map here.

Details of Aintree racecourse SMART testing site shown on location map.
Details of Aintree racecourse SMART testing site shown on location map.

Each site is open from 9am to 6pm every day apart from Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Monday 28th December and New Year’s Day. No appointments are necessary so people can just turn up.

SMART tests identify if people have COVID-19 but don’t know it because they don’t have symptoms. Results take just 30 minutes to come through.

Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health Margaret Jones has described getting a SMART test before Christmas as a way to reduce the chance of passing on the COVID-19 virus to relations who may be vulnerable to what is still a dangerous virus over Christmas.

Details of Southport Splash World SMART testing site shown on location map.
Details of Southport Splash World SMART testing site shown on location map.

She said she understand why people might be reluctant to get a test because a positive result will spoil our Christmas but it’s a question of weighing up a few days’ disappointment against the possibly devastating effects of knowing we’ve given COVID-19 to an elderly or vulnerable relative for whom infection could be very serious and even life-threatening.

“Get a test before getting together,” she added.

Read Margaret Jones’ comments in full.

Leader, Chief Executive and Mayor join together to say THANK YOU

The Leader at Sefton Council Cllr Ian Maher, Chief Executive Dwayne Johnson and Madam Mayor June Burns send a Christmas message of thanks to Sefton residents, staff and partners for being strong and pulling together to support one another in what has been a challenging year.

Watch their Christmas Message for all staff, residents and partners, here

Additionally, in a joint statement to staff, Leader of Sefton Council, Cllr Ian Maher and Chief Executive Dwayne Johnson said:

“We know every member of staff at Sefton Council is working hard to make sure that we are able to continue to provide the vital services that our communities rely on.

We are immensely proud of the way in which the Council and its workforce have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, working in very demanding and challenging times.

Elected Members and the Council’s Senior Leadership Team have been considering a number of ways that we can formally thank our staff in recognition of everyone’s efforts in the ongoing Covid-19 response.

We have consulted with Trade Unions and employees that are centrally employed by Sefton Council will be awarded with an extra one day’s leave (pro-rata) during 2021/22. This will be linked to a person’s birthday, or if on a non-working day or for operational reasons this cannot be taken, a substitute day will be given, ideally as near to a person’s birthday.”


Covid-19 ‘SMART’ Testing Helps Liverpool City Region Stay in Tier 2

SMART coronavirus testing’s successful roll-out to Sefton and the City Region, has helped the area stay in Tier 2 – and may help reduce restrictions further in the future.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced today (Thursday 17th December) that Liverpool City Region would stay in the Government’s Tier 2.

The leaders of the six Liverpool City Region Local Authorities and Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, are urging people to continue coming forward for the rapid SMART testing as it is repeatedly testing people who have no symptoms in a targeted way which will have significant effect during the coming weeks and months as we strive to keep the spread of virus low.

Liverpool City Region is one of the few places not in Tier 3, where anyone can turn up for rapid, regular and free testing without having symptoms of Covid-19.

Sefton and the opther five City Region councils are taking part in the extended programme which aims to use targeted testing to enable people to live more normal lives.

In addition to identifying people with the virus, who could unknowingly pass it on, regular testing will hopefully allow residents to return to the things they love – and continue to miss as a result of national and local restrictions.

In Sefton, SMART COVID-19 testing for residents who DON’T have COVID-19 symptoms is now taking place at:

  • Splash World in Southport
  • Bootle Leisure Centre
  • Aintree Racecourse.

Each site is open from 9am to 6pm every day apart from Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Monday 28th December and New Year’s Day. No appointments necessary so you can just turn up.

“SMART” testing refers to Systematic, Meaningful, Asymptomatic, Repeated Testing, with the approach being based on the learning of the pilot in Liverpool which continues to inform how testing can be developed nationally.

Covid-19 infection rates have fallen across the city region’s 1.6 million people, now standing at around 100 per 100,000 people. At their peak in October rates were around 700 per 100,000.

Testing in this way does not mean that people should not continue to be vigilant, but the benefits of identifying those who are carrying the virus, without knowing, are already showing through.

In a joint statement today , Sefton Council leader, the Metro Mayor, Acting Mayor of Liverpool and Leaders of the other Local Authority Leaders, said: “When our region went from the highest tier into Tier 2 restrictions after the national lockdown ended, we said it was a vindication of the hard work, sacrifice and dedication of the 1.6m people who live in our region.

“Today’s announcement that we are to continue in Tier 2 is a credit to all of those people that acted responsibly to help reduce our transmission rates. Now is not the time to be complacent.

“Tier 2 is not without restrictions, but it does mean that people are able to enjoy a more ordinary Christmas. We cannot afford to undo all the hard work and sacrifice that people have made over the past few weeks.

“It is really important that we remain vigilant, celebrate responsibly and safely, especially if we are to avoid more severe restrictions in the new year. So please keep following the advice, get tested and keep each other safe.

“Coronavirus is the worst present you can give anybody this Christmas, so please look out for each other.”

Director of Testing and Mass Vaccination for Cheshire & Merseyside, Terry Whalley, said: “SMART is a huge opportunity for the Liverpool City Region and I’ve no doubt that the unprecedented amount of testing we’ve been doing has helped us get the R down and allowed us to stay in Tier 2. We continue to lead the way on testing those without symptoms across the region.

“I believe that targeted repeat testing, two or three times a week, of certain groups of people can make a real difference to the way we live with Covid-19 as we continue to roll out an effective vaccine.

“We can make use of SMART to be as sure as possible that we are not carrying Covid-19 to the Christmas table or spreading it to our loved ones as we enjoy the festive period.

“Together, let’s keep proving that additional testing of those without symptoms can help protect lives and livelihoods, while of course still being careful to do the basics – hands, space, face.

“Look after your family and friends this Christmas and get tested to protect them and others now and into the new year.”

Find out more about SMART testing in Sefton.

Santa gets a SMART test

With a week to go until his busiest night of the year, even Santa Claus has found time to have a SMART test at one of Sefton’s testing centres for people without any Covid-19 symptoms.

He dropped by Bootle Leisure Centre to undergo the quick and simple test.


“These SMART tests are ideal for me,” said Santa.

“By taking one I found out in just 30 minutes that presents and happiness are all I’m going to be spreading over Christmas, but I’ll be back again to get another test very soon.

“I’ll still be social distancing, wearing a mask and cleaning my hands after every visit on Christmas Eve to ensure I can protect Mrs Claus and ensure all-round ‘elf’ when I get home to the workshop.

“Ho- Ho- Hope you will all follow in my footsteps, and if you haven’t got any Covid-19 symptoms, go to a SMART test centre to protect yourself and your family.”

Read the latest Christmas advice from Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health, Margaret Jones.

Remember, SMART tests for people with NO symptoms are available at three locations across Sefton:

  • Splash World in Southport
  • Bootle Leisure Centre
  • Aintree Racecourse

You can find the SMART testing FAQs here. 

Community COVID-19 vaccination programme begins in Sefton

Sefton’s community based COVID-19 immunisation programme run by local GP practices began on Tuesday 15 December as the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history continues.

Nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, GPs and other NHS staff from across Sefton are working together to vaccinate those aged 80 and over identified as a priority group. Primary care teams have been working rapidly to set up local vaccination centres and put in place safe processes to meet the tough logistical challenges of offering the vaccination.

GP practices will be contacting their eligible patients when it is their turn to receive the vaccine.

Marilyn Cull, 85, of Southport
Marilyn Cull, 85, of Southport

Marilyn Cull, 85, of Southport, who was the first to receive the vaccine said: “I phoned the surgery back up this morning because I thought it might have been just a dream. I was lucky to be the first one to get the vaccine.

“It’s a much bigger risk not to have the vaccination. The staff were really lovely and they made me feel at ease.

“I’ve been coping well but the news about the vaccine was brilliant and I’m glad I got it done.”

Marjorie Grundy, 87, from Maghull,
Marjorie Grundy, 87, from Maghull,

Marjorie Grundy, 87, from Maghull, said: “I was delighted to get the vaccine.

“Getting it done was really straightforward. I’m looking forward to things getting back to normal.”

Charles McCoy
Charles McCoy, 83, from Maghull

Charles McCoy, 83, from Maghull, said: “I was glad to get the call. I told my boys and they said do it. Everyone who is offered should get the vaccine.

“The NHS has been fantastic through this and you can see people are working really hard to keep people safe. We should be thankful for the work they do.”

Southport GP, Dr Simon Tobin from Norwood Surgery, said: I’ve been absolutely thrilled at the uptake for the coronavirus vaccine. When we rang them, 99% of our most vulnerable patients jumped at the opportunity to have the vaccine and booked appointments immediately.

“I will be urging all our eligible patients (as well as my 84 year old father) to have the vaccine when they are offered it. They will be contacted by their own surgeries so please don’t ring them.

“Yesterday we gave many of the highest risk people in Southport the first of the two vaccinations. People were so excited and really appreciative. There was a real buzz at the vaccination centre.

“Many parts of the UK have not even started giving the vaccine yet – we’re ahead of the game.

“Our local NHS heroes have worked tirelessly to ensure that we get this vaccine out to those most at need. They deserve tremendous credit for their dedication and commitment to our population.”

Dr Rob Caudwell, chair of NHS Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “A great deal of planning has gone on in recent weeks to get ready for the vaccination programme.

“This is an important step in our fight against coronavirus but it is vital to continue to protect yourself and others by following government guidance by washing your hands regularly, wearing a face covering and maintaining social distancing.”

Dr Craig Gillespie, chair of NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Your NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccine. All eligible patients will be contacted direct when it is their turn, with an invitation to attend a vaccination appointment and details of where to go.

“It is fantastic that we are able to start delivering vaccinations in local community settings and we would like to thank the teams of primary care colleagues who are working to make this happen.”

The vaccine currently being used (Pfizer/BioNTech) has very specific storage and transportation requirements, so the initial focus from this week will be those 80 years of age and over who can visit a centre in person.

Housebound patients and care home residents will be vaccinated as soon as this is possible.

Sefton’s community COVID-19 vaccination centres are being run by groups of practices, known as primary care networks, working together with NHS Southport and Formby CCG and NHS South Sefton CCG.

Community based primary care centres are in addition to hospital hubs, which began vaccinating patients on Tuesday 8 December.

More information about the COVID-19 vaccine, including answers to a range of frequently asked questions. 

If you need help with coronavirus symptoms, please visit:

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