Lancaster University and NHS join forces to combat Covid-19

Lancaster University has offered the use of its own labs in order to increase the number of tests for Covid-19 among NHS staff and patients following an approach from the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT).

University staff from Biomedical and Life Sciences (BLS) in the Faculty of Health and Medicine are now working with NHS staff from the diagnostic labs in UHMBT, using testing kits which are supplied by the NHS.

The diagnostic testing has been validated and the facility is now fully operational from 27th April.

Dr Shahedal Bari, Medical Director, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) said: “We were delighted that our partner and local university came forward to help us to carry out the tests. It is fantastic that the organisation with an outstanding track record of research and medical training, which trains many of our doctors of the future, has been able to help the population in this challenging time.”

Professor Paul Bates, the Head of BLS, thanked everyone at Lancaster University who had volunteered to help the NHS.

“This is a really positive development that we can all be proud of, making a real contribution to fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.”

There is an urgent need to help both with rapid diagnosis of suspected Covid-19 cases presenting at hospitals as well as for NHS staff with possible infections. Being able to ramp up NHS testing may enable NHS staff to return to work sooner if the test is negative, while NHS patient samples will also be tested at the lab with a rapid turnaround.

Professor Bates said: “We are looking at running tests seven days a week, using equipment and facilities we have in the BLS labs, which will be a big help to our colleagues in the NHS. We have set up a main testing lab, with appropriate physical distancing measures, run by a team of BLS and NHS staff.”

Professor Jo Rycroft Malone, Dean of the Faculty of Health and Medicine, said: “We have a strong track record of working closely with our regional partners. Collaborating with UHMBT to set up this testing lab at a time of national crisis shows the strength of our relationship, and how working closely together can really help our community.”

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