Mobile COVID-19 testing centres have been deployed in Northamptonshire to help more of the county’s essential workers return to work and stop the spread of coronavirus.
The military-led units were in operation in Corby over the bank holiday weekend and in Northampton from Monday 4 to Wednesday 6 May – offering tests for symptomatic key workers who had pre-registered via the national online booking system.
Part of a national fleet of mobile testing units (MTUs) travelling the country, these temporary facilities arrived in the county to support the work of Northamptonshire’s already-established COVID-19 testing centres at Northampton General Hospital and Kettering General Hospital.
Between them the facilities have tested more than 4,000 local key workers to date, including NHS and care home staff, eligible council employees and emergency services personnel.
Chris Pallot, Director of Strategy and Partnerships at Northampton General Hospital and Northamptonshire’s COVID-19 testing lead, said: “Although providing access to coronavirus testing for key workers who need it has been a significant challenge, it’s testament to the tremendous collaborative efforts of everyone involved in establishing our county’s testing hubs that we have good capacity in place.
“Across the two sites at NGH and KGH we have capacity to test hundreds of health, care and public sector key workers with COVID-19 symptoms who are referred by their employers each day – and the vast majority of results are delivered back within 48 hours.
“Although our local testing capacity is good we were pleased to welcome the mobile units to Northampton and Corby last week, opening up further opportunities for essential workers to get tested locally.”
The Commander of 7th Infantry Brigade (the Desert Rats), Brigadier Tom Bewick, is co-ordinating and providing all military support to the county’s civilian agencies in response to the Coronavirus-19 Pandemic.
He said: “I am enormously proud of the Desert Rats who have been operating the MTUs across Northamptonshire. “Speaking to the soldiers I know how proud they are to be working to help keep members of the NHS and other key workers safe.
“The flexibility of the soldiers and their familiarity with high-pressure taskings has meant they are ideally suited for this support role. We will continue to support the NHS and other government departments as long as we are needed.”
Mark Smith, Chief People Officer at Kettering General Hospital, said that daily testing at KGH had proved beneficial to staff and patient safety.
He said: “The testing capacity we have in place at KGH enables us to inform colleagues with a negative result of this and support them in returning to work to support their colleagues.
“Where staff do test positive they maintain self-isolation for at least seven days before being able to recommence work, if they are well enough to do so, in line with national guidance.
“Staff testing is an important part of the Trust’s infection control strategy to ensure we are able to deliver safe care to patients.”
NHS, care sector, local authority and emergency services staff in Northamptonshire with coronavirus symptoms (or symptomatic members of their household) can access COVID-19 testing in the county through their employer.
Other eligible groups – including symptomatic over 65s and those whose work cannot be done from home – can register online for testing at one of the government’s regional testing sites. Further information is available by visiting www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested.