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Ipswich Hospital establishes £6.5m hub for molecular testing of 2,000 patients per day

PUBLISHED: 16:30 09 September 2020

Ipswich Hospital has a new molecular testing lab able to test 2,000 patients per day by the end of October 2020. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Ipswich Hospital has a new molecular testing lab able to test 2,000 patients per day by the end of October 2020. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Ipswich Hospital has spent £6.5million on a new lab which has become the hub for molecular testing in Suffolk and north Essex – and up to 2,000 people per day will soon be able to be tested.

Dr Shane Gordon from ESNEFT said Ipswich Hospital now had a hub for molecular testing.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNDr Shane Gordon from ESNEFT said Ipswich Hospital now had a hub for molecular testing. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Hospital chiefs told Ipswich Borough Council’s scrutiny committee that at the start of the coronavirus pandemic all testing had to go to Cambridge, which back then meant tests would take seven days to be returned.

But the new molecular testing hub at Ipswich Hospital can currently facilitate around 1,200 people being tested per day with results returned in less than 24 hours.

MORE: Ipswich Hospital plans to continue elective procedures if second coronavirus spike hits

That number will rise to 2,000 tests by the end of October, with around £6.5m being spent on the set-up by the end of the year.

It marks a giant stride forward for testing capabilities for East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, which the runs the hospital, in just six months.

Dr Shane Gordon, director for strategy, research and innovation at ESNEFT, said: “At the beginning of this we couldn’t test a single person in Suffolk and north east Essex – all the work had to go to Cambridge.

“It means the time to get a test result has gone from seven days down to half a day, which is a massive improvement in the quality of care and the patient experience.”

Dr Gordon said that 57 new scientific staff had been recruited at Ipswich Hospital to run the hub, and added: “The response to that recruitment has been incredible.

“Our recruitment partner, NHS Professionals, tell us it’s the largest recruitment they have ever done in England, so we are very pleased with how that is progressing.

“We are also very encouraged by how many people across the country have chosen to come to Ipswich to join that new laboratory.”

The trust has also carried out significant levels of antibody testing, having tested around 25,000 people to date.

Dr Gordon said: “We are the first area in the country to test all our NHS staff in the area and we are now testing social care, domiciliary and care home staff, so that is a real success.”

The announcement came as the hospital trust confirmed it was planning to continue elective and routine procedures during a second spike, instead of having to halt those procedures as it had to do during lockdown.


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