COVID-19 Testing Capacity for Frontline Staff Increased
NHS Forth Valley has significantly increased its capacity to test frontline health and social care staff across the area to allow them to safely return to work as quickly as possible.
Two new drive through testing facilities have opened in the last two weeks (at Stirling Health and Care Village and Falkirk Community Hospital) and a third drive through facility is due to open this week at Bowhouse Community Centre in Grangemouth. These three new testing centres will replace the existing Covid-19 testing facility on the Lochview site in Larbert and increase staff testing capacity from around 40 to up to 200 each day.
So far more than 660 health and social care staff or members of their household have been tested. The vast majority have tested negative allowing frontline staff to return to work to support essential services and urgent care. NHS Forth Valley has also been testing colleagues working in local GP practices and pharmacies and, as a result of the increased capacity, will now be able to offer testing to frontline staff working for the Scottish Ambulance Service and Police Scotland.
Staff working in NHS Forth Valley’s laboratories at Forth Valley Royal Hospital have also recently developed in-house testing facilities which enable Covid-19 samples to be tested within the hospital. This has helped increase capacity and reduced the number of samples which have to be sent to laboratories in Glasgow for testing.
NHS Forth Valley’s Chief Executive, Cathie Cowan, said: “NHS Forth Valley was one of the first NHS Boards to put in place arrangements to test local health and social care staff in partnership with our three local councils.
“As a result of our increased testing and laboratory capacity we are now able to offer testing to a wider range of frontline staff, including colleagues working for local ambulance and police service. This will help ensure they can return to work as quickly as possible to support essential public services across the Forth Valley area.”
Patients admitted to hospitals or other healthcare facilities in NHS Forth Valley who have symptoms of Covid-19 are also being tested so they can be cared for in designated isolation areas to reduce the potential spread of infection.
Rigorous infection control measures are in place in all facilities used by the Health Board, including the new staff testing facilities. Any member of staff who requires to be tested is given specific information on the testing facility they are to attend and appointment times are staggered to avoid any issues around parking or congestion.
All current social isolation and distancing measures are followed by local healthcare staff working at the testing facilities. Anyone attending the drive through facilities travel in their own private vehicle which the do not leave at any time as they are only required to roll down the driver’s seat window to enable a member of staff to collect a throat swab sample. They then drive directly home once their sample has been collected for testing.
Pictured (above): Advanced Specialist Biomedical Scientist Paula Wilson, Specialist Biomedical Scientist Joanne Lyon and Advanced Specialist Biomedical scientist Sam Longstaff are pictured processing COVID-19 tests in NHS Forth Valley’s Microbiology laboratory at Forth Valley Royal Hospital.