A year after lockdown, NHS Tayside’s 34,000 tests is being highlighted by the first minister as ‘exemplar’.
NHS Tayside has been testing symptomatic health and social care staff, or their household members, throughout the pandemic and was one of the first health boards to do so.
NHS Tayside Associate Nurse Director Kathryn Brechin said: “If staff testing had not been established, the self-isolation rules would have had a much bigger impact on our workforce. We recognised this could be a significant issue so we mobilised a team of nursing, medical, laboratory and support staff to set up the staff testing hub.
“Having a dedicated testing team has enabled Tayside to be responsive to changing COVID-19 testing needs and priorities for our patients, public and staff.”
Testing frontline workers started in March of 2020 with a drive through checking GPs, health and social care partnership staff, community and hospital pharmacists and other hospital workers as well as any symptomatic household contacts.
Later their testing expanded to other essential key workers such as the Police, Scottish Ambulance Service, Scottish Fire and Rescue and local authority education staff who were supporting key worker children.
These staff who were found to be negative could then go back to work safely and the others who were found to be positive could self-isolate.
Testing peaked for Tayside on November 17 after the testing team received 321 swabs as pressure grew across all parts of the health and social care system.
Kathryn Brechin added: “The success of the hub has been a true collaborative effort, from our estates and support staff who built the hub to the testing team itself, the virology lab processing all the results and the team who are relaying the results to staff and their families. It really has been an outstanding team effort.”