Midland Met plays part to lead coronavirus testing

15th Apr 2020

The Midland Metropolitan University Hospital has become a key testing site for coronavirus in the West Midlands.

The testing centre is based in the car park for the site offices at the under-construction hospital which is due to open in 2022. It opened to key workers within primary and social care as well as other public sector employees from across the West Midlands this week and is appointment-only.

It is part of the Government’s UK-wide drive to increase testing for thousands more key workers.

Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust is behind the super hospital and also runs Sandwell, City and Rowley Regis Hospitals, as well as Leasowes Intermediate Care Centre. Construction company Balfour Beatty is building the hospital.

Toby Lewis, Chief Executive said: “Our Trust has been one of the biggest testing NHS bodies over the last three weeks and we are thrilled to be launching this service for transport workers, GPs, refuge workers, social workers and emergency service staff.  Midland Met is more than a hospital.”

Bob Hallam-Allsop, Balfour Beatty Project Director, said: “We are proud to be working with Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust and the UK Government to deliver a new COVID-19 testing facility, based on our Midland Metropolitan University Hospital site.

“With the support of our local supply chain, our dedicated team have proactively mobilised the project; transforming the main project car park in an incredibly short timeframe, over the Easter bank holiday weekend.

“We are deeply committed to supporting our NHS workers on the frontline, and wherever possible, contributing to the battle against COVID-19. All works have been delivered in line with current guidance on COVID-19 from the UK Government in accordance with the Standard Operating Procedure, and endorsed by Public Health England.”

The opening of the testing centre follows the launch of the Government’s partnership with universities, research institutes and companies to begin roll out of the network of new labs and field testing sites across the UK, with 27 testing sites opened to date.

This network will provide thousands more PCR swab tests – which are used to identify if you currently have the virus – for critical key workers, starting with NHS front line staff. This means those who test negative for coronavirus can return to work as soon as possible, and those who test positive are able to recover.

Health Minister Lord Bethell said: “The Government is rapidly scaling up the national effort to boost testing capacity for coronavirus to protect the vulnerable, support our NHS, and ultimately save lives.

“This new service will help end the uncertainty of whether NHS and social care staff need to stay at home meaning those who test negative will be able to return to work.

“This is a national effort and we are proud to be working with a number of partners to turn this ambition into a reality and roll out additional capacity to where it is needed.”

Professor John Newton, National Coordinator for the UK Coronavirus Testing Strategy, said:

 “New testing sites such as this one are a key pillar of our 5-pillar plan to scale up testing, and are critical in supporting NHS staff who are isolating at home to return safely to work if the test is negative.

“This is a brilliant example of industries and businesses turning their resources to creating and rolling out mass testing at scale, which will help to deliver on our aim of carrying out 100,000 tests a day across the UK by the end of the month.”

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