NHS Forth Valley labs play a major role in fight against Covid-19

The microbiology department at Forth Valley Royal Hospital has recorded an impressive response in the ongoing fight against Covid-19. Since the pandemic began, they have processed more than 186,000 Covid-19 tests from local hospitals, healthcare staff and care homes and, more recently, from prisons in the Forth Valley area. This figure is an excellent response for a smaller Health Board and has been achieved by working closely with colleagues in Public Health.

With result reporting exceeding an outstanding 95% turnaround time, NHS Forth Valley’s Microbiology Laboratory Manager, Elisabeth Kilgour, said: “Staff have gone above and beyond with increased shift patterns, often working until late into the night, to deliver Covid-19 results for local patients. I am very proud of all that the laboratory staff has, as a team, achieved so far and will continue to deliver over the winter months as a key part of the health and care team.”

To help speed up results, a satellite laboratory was also set up in November 2020 on the ground floor of the hospital close to the Emergency Department, to deliver rapid results for patients who had to be quickly admitted to hospital. This required a new skill set for the excellent team of local staff (mainly nursing students, healthcare support workers and biomedical science students) who were trained to provide 24/7 cover and deserve to be commended for their efforts.

In addition to Covid-19 testing, the Microbiology Department, which is accredited to a standard which verifies integrity, impartiality and competence, has also been dealing with all of the routine diagnostic testing which has now seen a return to pre-pandemic levels. In 2020/21 more than 277,000 samples were tested by the Microbiology Department in Forth Valley Royal Hospital.

Microbiology staff can also offer advice to local GPs and hospital-based doctors, to help them make a diagnosis or prescribe the correct antibiotics to treat an infection. In addition, they work closely with NHS Forth Valley’s Infection Prevention and Control Team to help reduce the spread of infection, such as C. difficile, MRSA and other resistant bacteria.