Investment of £5.2million in Ipswich Hospital lab will speed up Covid test results

Ipswich Hospital is receiving £5.2million to fund a new Molecular Laboratory to improve Covid testing capacity in Suffolk. ...

Ipswich Hospital is receiving £5.2million to fund a new Molecular Laboratory to improve Covid testing capacity in Suffolk. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Hospital has been granted £5.2million in funding for a new Molecular Laboratory to increase Covid testing capacity.

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt welcomed news the funding had been approved by ministers with a speech in the House of Commons yesterday ...

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt welcomed news the funding had been approved by ministers with a speech in the House of Commons yesterday following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's statement. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The current hospital lab had no way to analyse tests on site at the beginning of the pandemic, so was sending them to Cambridge which took five to seven days to be returned.

This was before the hospital got to the point where it was able to test 1,200 people a day with results returned within hours – however, the lab was cramped and running near capacity.

In late October Ipswich MP Tom Hunt wrote to Health Secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock, calling for a new Molecular Laboratory bid to be given ministerial approval at the “earliest opportunity”.

This was after a meeting with chair of the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust Helen Taylor, who informed him the bid had not yet been given final approval by ministers despite approval from NHS England.

Mr Hunt wrote to Health Secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock to support the investment at Ipswich Hospital. Picture: ...

Mr Hunt wrote to Health Secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock to support the investment at Ipswich Hospital. Picture: PA IMAGES - Credit: PA


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On November 11, the hospital received word the funding had been approved and Mr Hunt took to the House of Commons to welcome the news on Monday, November 23, following the Prime Minister’s statement.

He said: “More testing with quick turnaround times is vital to beating Covid-19 and I made the point in the chamber today that it’s incredibly important that Ipswich Hospital is where it needs to be on this issue.

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“That wasn’t the case while the hospital had reached its testing capacity and was processing the tests in a less than ideal lab space.

“This new lab will allow the hospital to ramp up testing to 3,000 tests a day by the end of March and provide long-term benefits for Ipswich residents like improved cancer diagnosis.

Gainsborough Sports Centre in Ipswich has been reported as a potential site for delivering Covid-19 vaccinations and could be...

Gainsborough Sports Centre in Ipswich has been reported as a potential site for delivering Covid-19 vaccinations and could be set up within two weeks as the first such site in Suffolk. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

“It was good we got this £5.2 million investment off ministers’ desks and into our local hospital where it’s needed.”

He called a safe vaccine a “light at the end of the tunnel” and reported the NHS have been looking at Gainsborough Sports Centre as the county’s first site for delivering vaccinations.

He added: “There is still a way to go on this but having Ipswich at the forefront of both testing and vaccinations is a crucial issue for Ipswich residents.”

It is thought the first vaccination site in Suffolk could be set up in as little as two weeks’ time.

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