More than 20,000 antibody tests carried out in Suffolk and Essex
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More than 20,000 coronavirus antibody tests have been completed on NHS staff, patients and military personnel in the area in just six weeks.
The East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) are conducting antibody tests on their staff, patients and other key workers such as paramedics and military personnel at test sites to try and find anyone who has previously carried coronavirus.
The test, which involves taking a sample of blood rather than a swab in the mouth or nose, is as automated as possible to allow more time for medical staff to treat patients.
Human input is only needed when the test is booked and the blood sample is taken.
Shane Gordon, ESNEFT director of strategy, research and innovation, said: “We are very proud of our antibody testing system and the excellent feedback we have received from people using it.
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“People found it very easy to book a test and the whole process is speedy and efficient.
“Our staff worked incredibly hard to set up this fast, secure and effective system within just a matter of days.
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“We’re especially pleased that the process is largely managed by our virtual workers, which frees up admin staff and laboratory colleagues to focus on patient care, and that we’ve been able to support other areas to implement a similar process.”
The testing was organised in a matter of days in May and 20,662 antibody tests have been carried out since May 27. Antigen testing – which identifies if someone currently has coronavirus – is also being carried out across ESNEFT.
The trust is only able to take blood from patients for tests which have been requested by a healthcare professional, and not from people who have ordered a testing kit online.
Dr Gordon added: “The results of these tests will help contribute to understanding the prevalence of COVID-19 and the way it spreads within the community.
“We are pleased to have been able to play such a key role in helping to collect this important information.”
The trust said results are usually returned within 24 hours of the test.
ESNEFT was unable to confirm the number of positive antibody tests conducted since May 27, or the percentage of the results that were returned within 24 hours, before publication of this story.
Antibody tests are included in the government’s daily testing figures but do not show if someone is currently carrying coronavirus.