Coronavirus in Portsmouth: Rapid Covid testing system at QA Hospital's emergency department helping to keep staff and patients safe

A RAPID Covid-19 testing system has been introduced at Queen Alexandra Hospital’s emergency department.

Friday, 12th March 2021, 7:00 am
New 6 minute rapid Covid testing machines used in the Emergency Department at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham. Pictured is: Annie Hutchins-Lander, medical lab assistant. Picture: Sarah Standing (110321-2283)

It is hoped that the new six-minute system will help the hospital stop Covid-19 coming in at the front door unnecessarily.

By quickly identifying positive patients, medics will be able to keep patients and staff as safe as possible by moving those with the infection to designated isolation areas.

The instrument used to run the tests is called ID NOW, and around six of these machines are now operated by a dedicated team of healthcare staff at the hospital.

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One such team member is Annie Hutchins-Lander, who works in the department as a lab assistant.

She uses the test lab equipment to conduct the tests with patients as they come into the department.

Annie, who is 22 and from Havant, said: ‘It’s really cool - other machines can take three hours to process a test, but this one takes three minutes to warm up and then ten minutes to test the sample, although a positive result can come back in three minutes.

‘The tests are so easy to run, and we’ve had positive feedback from the other staff at the hospital as we’ve been able to put patients where they need to be more quickly.

‘It’s been a good experience - I’m really proud of how things are going.’

Annie started this new role a month ago, after working at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester as an outpatients receptionist.

She said: ‘People come in as inpatients, the nurses take the swab, and they bring it to us.

‘We have the machines set up, and we swill the swab into the sample holder.

‘The machine prints out the results.’

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Annie was brought on to the team by PHL Professionals, which was tasked with recruiting high-calibre candidates for the testing team working on site at the hospital 24/7.

Gareth Barter, development manager for PHL Professionals, said: ‘The Portsmouth hospital project is working to give quick information to clinicians and support communities as we come out of lockdown.

‘If we are able to help keep the community safe and offer support to doctors and nurses, then this is certainly a worthwhile project.’

The new ID NOW machines won’t replace the older machines entirely, as the older machines can run several tests at once.

QA Hospital takes two sets of swabs, one of which is sent to a laboratory for traditional Covid-19 testing and the other to the ID NOW instrument.

Liz Rix, chief nurse at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, said: ‘This improved testing ability means we are able to help ensure patients are not only able to receive the care and attention they need, when the need it, but also plays a role in keeping our staff and other patients safe from this virus so we are grateful to be able to offer it.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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